April 3, 2008

O.A.R. at Cornell: The Revolution is Coming

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O.A.R. (Of a Revolution) is coming to perform at Cornell University’s own Barton Hall this Sunday, April 6th. Clearly, you should be there.
While some bands have a rather limited appeal, O.A.R. is one of a select group of artists that anyone who appreciates music can truly enjoy. Perhaps most famous for their hits “Love and Memories” and “Heard the World,” the band’s MySpace describes their sound as “island-vibe roots rock.” The average listener, however, will find it easy to get past this slightly cheesy characterization and appreciate the engaging sound of a classic college jam band made even better. Reminiscent of Dave Matthews Band, Guster and Dispatch, O.A.R. is famous for their excellent live performances — their music, even in larger venues such as Barton, has the ability to envelope the audience and truly draws fans into the concert experience.
Surprisingly enough, the boys of O.A.R. have been playing together since their high school days in Rockville, Maryland. Their first album, The Wanderer, was released before their graduation. Although many high school bands break up when their members head off to college, O.A.R. stuck together. The four original members (singer/guitarist Marc Roberge, lead guitarist Richard On, bassist Benji Gershman and drummer Chris Culos) headed off to Ohio State University, where they met the final ingredient to their sound — saxophonist Jerry DePizzo. As O.A.R. progressed through college, their popularity and opportunities to perform only increased. They left Ohio State with three independently released albums and the memories of hundreds of shows.
A band who truly owes much of their fan base to the popularity of internet music downloads, O.A.R. relied on word of mouth for to spread their songs. Such a strategy proved rather effective, as they were able to unload over 300,000 albums through their independent record label, Everfine Records, before signing with Lava Records and releasing the album In Between Now and Then in 2003. After joining Lava Records, O.A.R. began to enjoy even more success. They sold out Madison Square Garden in January 2006, a major accomplishment for a band still managing to stay relatively out of mainstream spotlight. Any Time Now, the band’s first live album, has been certified gold. O.A.R. has currently sold over a million records since their formation — quite a feat for a couple of high school and college friends; a love of music has kept them together throughout the years.
Sunday’s concert, organized by Cornell Concert Commission, will open up with a set of songs from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, whose music has been featured heavily on Grey’s Anatomy (Fans of the show will recognize “Falling or Flying” from the Season 3 finale). There are other reasons to get excited about this opener besides their connections to a hit TV show, however.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will be one of the first female fronted bands to perform at a major Cornell concert in several years. Aside from adding a welcome dose of estrogen to the night’s talent, the band’s classic, vaguely subdued rock and roll sound should provide quite the complementary counterpart to the musical stylings of O.A.R. Sunday night should be a veritable feast of unforgettable music, with the appealing appetizer of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals followed by the most excellent main course of O.A.R.