Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

O.A.R. Electrifies The Anthem With Powerful Performance

ZOE RAIN | O.A.R., which will be releasing a new album in 2019 called “The Mighty,” put on an incredible performance at The Anthem, proving that live shows offer a distinct and invaluable musical experience for fans.

As Christmastime snuck up on Washington, D.C., O.A.R., which stands for Of a Revolution, came back to its home turf to prove once again that the band is a phenomenal live act.

Walking down the beautiful D.C. Wharf on the evening of Dec. 15, the crowd stood out around The Anthem, the bright new auditorium and musical venue built as part of a comprehensive redevelopment project in the city’s southwest waterfront. The people filing in line to enter were in for a treat, as the venue is aesthetically pleasing: clean and minimalistic, with careful attention to detail and a renovated-factory-space aesthetic. The stage foreshadowed the show to come; a simple, elegant stage set and light scheme placed all focus on the performers, and they would deliver.

Maggie Rose, an impressive act for a show opener, deserves a mention as well. She was energetic and captivating to get the crowd warmed up and ready. Faced with a tall task — as a large part of the audience was still disengaged and strolling into the venue when her set started — she held strong and put on a frizzling spectacle to get the audience in groove mode.

She hit the ground running with “I’m Yours,” a rock number with pleasurable hints of blues and country that injected the audience with energy and made them pay more attention to her. After asking the audience to “say hi to your next-door neighbor if you haven’t yet,” and to get comfortable with people around them, she offered “Change the Whole Thing,” an intimate piece from her new album that showcased her impressive voice and stage presence. She capped off her stage time with a soul rendition that was the perfect transition to O.A.R.’s reggae-vibes, pop-rock-alternating set.

After Rose’s opening, O.A.R.’s lead man, Marc Roberge, and his bandmates kicked off the show with “52-50,” a song that, while enjoyable, is typically considered a forgettable track. With a mellow tune, a sleepy saxophone backdrop and a crescendo of guitar riffs at its conclusion, the track is a good listen but not particularly memorable. The live version, however, was mesmerizing. With added percussion, more inspired chord stringing, additional wind instruments and an energized Roberge, the song immediately electrified the crowd. The band members appeared engulfed in a musical frenzy that they enjoyed as much as, or even more than, the crowd.

With the second song of the set, “About Mr. Brown,” the band really caught the audience and never let go. Its two secret weapons came out to play and stole the show: Jerry DePizzo, long-time saxophonist for the band, and Jon Lampley, part-time tour member and trumpetist. The soothing saxophone sounds and blasting, tempo-setting trumpet completely transformed the band’s tunes, and the energy radiating from DePizzo’s and Lampley’s dancing and vibing elevated the performance’s intensity — a mighty feat for a band that already gives its all in every single act.

In fact, O.A.R. was on such a roll that Roberge did not acknowledge the audience for another 20 or 30 minutes. He shared a memory of the band’s first set, an eighth-grade talent show in the band’s native Rockville, Md., and reflected on the constant support of friends and family since then. He offered the next song, “I Go Through,” to all those who have given the band support, garnering roaring applause and admiration for Roberge’s ability to lead through a song with little musical accompaniment.

Throughout the night, O.A.R. exhibited the wide range of styles and sounds it has explored since its first album was released in 1997, shifting from passionate and raw, to mellow and thoughtful, to ecstatic and carefree. The band also changed genres and accompanying instruments, giving some run to its pop and alternative rock sounds, which help exhibit Roberge’s strong lyrical acumen, some of them — admittedly — by leaning a little too much on his driving vocals.

The aforementioned “I Go Through” recalled the band’s exploration of pop sounds, while “Love and Memories” brought back memories of edgy teenager indie rock hits of the early 2000s. And yet the best of O.A.R.’s sounds is the reggae-infused, wind-instrument-heavy, free-jamming flurry of energy that generated hits like “Program Director” and “About Mr. Brown.” With these powerful and entertaining songs, riveting performances and an eager crowd, O.A.R failed to disappoint in its return to the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area.

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