August 19, 2016 O.A.R. Celebrate 20 Breathtaking Years Coney Island, NY 8-6-16
In any walk of life, twenty years together is a striking accomplishment. That said, in the world of music, it is often unheard that a band stick together that long. Personalities clash, lives change, and sometimes people just lose their passion. That is why it is inspiring to see the Rockville, Maryland band who make up Of A Revolution, more commonly known as O.A.R., celebrating twenty years together in 2016. With the core of Marc Roberge (lead vocals, guitar), Richard On (lead guitar, vocals), Chris Culos (drums, percussion), and Benj Gershman (bass) all together since 1996, only Jerry Depizzo (saxophone) has not been with them since their inception, but he joined up in 2000, and to a role not held prior in the band.
Together, the collective of O.A.R. has built something extremely special, something worthy of a celebration, and what better way than a summertime tour. Coming months after their fan-friendly You Pick The Set Tour, O.A.R. return to the road in the summer of 2016 to honor their 20th anniversary along with the August 5th release of their ninth studio album, XX, a title clearly taking inspiration from the Roman Numeral for how long the band has been together. With the tour barely warmed up, the third show took to Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, August 6th, for a night of fun surely to please all Jam band lovers.
An a-typical summer night in the city of New York, fans filed in to be greeted by supporting act The Hunts. A name shared by all the band members, for these seven siblings; twin sisters and their five brothers, music became a way of life at a young age. Growing up in a small three bedroom house in Chesapeake, Virginia, the group took after their parents, and all seven learned the violin before moving on to numerous instruments. Now, Jenni (vocals, guitar, violin), Jessi (banjo, violin, vocals), and their five brothers – Josh (vocals, guitar), Jonathan (keyboard), Jordan (drums), Jamison (bass, mandolin, vocals), and Justin Hunt (multiple instruments) come together to form an Indie Folk band that is truly something special. The band is quoted on their website’s bio as saying that music is what always brought their family together. Now it was time for that same music to bring them together with an eager New York crowd.
With everyone taking their seats, The Hunts took a stage set comfortably. Adorned with a litany of instruments and a wooden chair, the stage brought to life the personality the band possessed. Opening with “Darlin'” off their Livingroom Sessions EP, it became immediately clear the comradery between the siblings. Playing in complete harmony, the band continued with “Illuminate” and “Far” as fans warmed up to what The Hunts had to offer. The wooden chair even came into play as Jenni and Justin took to it with drumsticks and the band continued to wow fans with “Just For a While” before “Douse the Flame.”
With their set halfway over, the band still had plenty up their sleeve as they continued to win over the growing crowd showing off hits from The Younger Days with “Please Be Still.” The fun continued with “Make This Leap” and “Ages” before they closed out their set, thanking their parents and gladly announced that “Mama” Hunt was in the arena to show her support. The band happily announced that when their set was over they would be heading to the merchandise booth to spend time with fans, and with that, they concluded with Livingroom Sessions song “Along the Way.”
As promised, the band made their way to the merchandise booth where all seven brothers and sisters posed for photos and signed autographs for fans. Fans of Indie Folk Rock can be assured that The Hunts are everything they are looking for and provide the perfect soundtrack for a lazy Sunday with Those Younger Days. Easy to relate to and fantastic to listen to, listeners can look forward to seeing the Hunts perform alongside O.A.R. through September.
With the stage now set with a huge lighting structure baring the “XX” seen on OA.R.’s album of the same name, it was time for the main attraction to take the stage. It was an extra special night for many reasons. One, the obvious 20th anniversary thing, two, it was a day after XX was released, and three, it was O.A.R.’s first visit to Coney Island. Joined the regulars in O.A.R. were touring members Mikel Paris (keyboards) and Jon Lampley (trumpet, saxophone), both of which would have their chance to shine before the night’s end. In fact, the two were showcased quickly as the set opened with the first half of “City on Down” as Lampley left his position to take center stage, blowing the crowd away with his skills before pumping the crowd up as he shot his hand up in the air. One song later, along with the second half of “Delicate Few,” it was time for Depizzo to do the same with his sax on the other side of the stage, bringing the crowd to their feet again. A spectacular way to start the show, Roberge thanked everyone for coming out before shifting to “Night Shift” and “So Moved On.”
Keeping the energy flowing, “Shattered (Turn the Car Around)” saw many singing along and despite being a seated show, chairs had never seemed more meaningless as everyone still remained on their feet. Continuing the festivities with “Something Coming Over” and “Dareh Meyod,” Roberge then referenced the band’s recent work with Howard Stern before moving into “This Town” and “Anyway.” Letting the music do most of the talking, they rocked on with “Hey Girl” before dedicating “Love and Memories” to a fallen friend. Later going into “Missing Pieces” and “Peace,” both Depizzo and Lampley took turns in the spotlight on their respective brass instruments to everyone’s delight.
Quite a lengthy performance touching on many areas of the band’s career, O.A.R. continued to show appreciation to their fans. Aware the show must be coming to a close, those same fans prayed for an encore as the main set wound down with “About Mr. Brown” and “Heaven.” Answering the call for more, O.A.R. eagerly returned as a huge ovation tore through the venue. This elevated noise level reached new heights when the band paid tribute to Coldplay with a cover of “Fix You” as laser lights lit up the amphitheater’s curved ceiling. Gershman then turned to Roberge and asked, “What song do you want to play next,” off-mic, to which he responded with, “No idea!” Undecided, they let the audience make the choice and upon hearing a fan shout “Black Rock,” Roberge exclaimed “Good idea!” The band was off and running with the hit track. Giving fans a healthy dose of encore goodness, O.A.R. finished off with two more, “I Feel Home” and crowd-favorite “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker,” a closing that sent the crowd back onto the Coney Island Boardwalk floating on air.
Twenty years has done nothing to slow down O.A.R. By their own admission, their website features the quote “A new record, a new tour, 20 years in the making, and just getting started.” With their 2012 Rockville LP debuting at #1 on the Independent Albums chart and XX currently positioned at #6 on US Rock Charts, it is impossible to argue that point. The album is every bit a worthy purchase sweetened even by being bundled with a disc of live performances including two new songs in “Follow Me, Follow You” and “I Go Through.” With their live performances being what O.A.R. attributes much of their success to, the live CD alone is an incredible add-on. With all that said, the XX Tour: Evolution of a Revolution will continue to make waves through September, and it is an awe-inspiring show guaranteed to tear the house down every night.