There are leaders and there are followers, innovators and thieves, creative businessmen and swindlers. Music acts are no different.
Watching Of a Revolution (O.A.R.) perform at the Jeep World Outside Festival was, gently put, painful. O.A.R. represented the worst kind of coattail riding, playing off the crowd’s naive sensibilities until beautiful sunflowers sprung out of the Tweeter Center’s lawn area, several hundred people bought $3 bottled water, and a handful of discerning fans took to the rest room to throw up.
O.A.R. combined the famous traits of many groups of the “jam band” genre, including Jimmy Buffett’s Caribbean feel, the BoDeans’ meticulousness, the Grateful Dead’s glee, Dave Matthews’ provocation and Johnny Rzeznik’s (Goo Goo Dolls) raspy charm. These traits were then watered down with sophomoric and lustful lyrics and textbook chord progressions. Furthermore, O.A.R. didn’t have the talent of any of their influences. Guitar solos were simple, vocals were of limited range and tone, and the songs were average.
A “good-time party band” from Ohio State University, O.A.R. has learned its trade well. They’ve taken notes and try their best to hide their artificiality. They play a lot of solos and sing about women, partying and drinking. And, most important of all, they repeat the name of the city they are playing in. O.A.R. did all of these things, even inserting “Chicago” into their lyrics for three straight songs.
O.A.R. showed no originality in their 45-minute set, but much of the crowd was enthralled nonetheless. O.A.R. was the Jessica Simpson of acoustic party rock: packaged and styled, and borrowing the look, voice, clothes and feel of their successful predecessors. And just as some Jessica Simpson fans can’t get enough bubble gum to chew, many O.A.R. listeners can’t “identify” with enough introspective songs about drinking and sexual desires.
Artists can’t make it on stage without some effort, though, and O.A.R. deserves at least that credit. The band had a crisp sound with solid beats and execution.
Still, it was next to impossible to sit through the O.A.R. set without the jam band cliché alarm going off constantly. As much as anyone, I wish to see bands that I enjoy. But when O.A.R. said “Good night Chicago,” I picked a sunflower out of the lawn, gave it to a total stranger, and splurged for a $4 Pepsi.