By Amanda Holdraker
On August 6th, the band O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) headlined a show at CMAC that had excited fans out of their seats the entire evening. The band has been growing a large following of mostly 20 and 30-somethings since their debut album “The Wanderer” in 1997.
In my opinion, O.A.R. is one of those bands that you either want to hear live or you want to play at summer parties, barbecues, or out tailgating as many fans did on this night.
It was only a few years ago that my husband, myself and a bunch of friends saw O.A.R. perform at a concert that they put on in a packed parking lot at Frontier Field in Rochester. On Friday, we were surprised by the lack of attendance in the lawn, but it appeared that the shell was rather packed.
Starting out the night was Kelley James, a California freestyle artist, who I will be adding to my playlist as soon as I am done writing this review. You may have never heard of him, but I guarantee he will be a much bigger name very soon.
As a fan of O.A.R., I feel guilty that hearing Kelley James was the best part of the night for me. My husband and I, along with the rest of the crowd, were amazed by this young man’s incredible talent. We had never seen someone freestyle full length songs with such a fresh and fun style. His freestyles, which included the audience in the lyrics, were so effortless, you kept asking yourself…. “How did he do that”?! On top of his outstanding freestyle skills, Kelley’s songs are fun and catchy. Songs like “Stalker” and “Standing on a Rooftop”, off his new CD Break Free, could easily be featured on the Top 40 charts.
At one point, I found myself listening with excitement with a giant smile on my face…feeling embarrassed I looked around and everyone else had the same exact look I did- phew! So needless to say, the audience response to Kelley was impressive. He sounded like a blend of O.A.R. and Sublime….not a bad combo! There were no big lights, no big production…. just his talent that wowed the fans! I just wish more fans showed up early to hear this talent.
Next up, the group SOJA brought out the reggae funkiness to stage. If you are an avid reggae listener then check this group out. This is a very young group that assembled growing up in Virginia and began touring straight out of high school. They eventually added their saxophone and trumpet player while touring in Puerto Rico.
The crowd seemed to love this group and went nuts when the sax and trumpet took over the stage with their powerful sounds that soared through the shell.
O.A.R. took the stage with a lot more lighting effects than they had back in 2008 at Frontier Field….in some ways this may have taken away from the purity and rawness I recall from that concert. The band has now released 7 studio albums with a few live albums as well. The seventh was released on August 7th and is titled KING.
O.A.R. played several of their older tracks that had the venue echoing with the sound of fans singing along. The one thing they had this time that they did not back in 2008, was a trombone and trumpet player. The new instrumentalists, along with O.A.R.’s well-established saxophone player, added a fresh, new sound to many of the songs.
Some older tracks they played were “City On Down”, “Black Rock”, “This Town”, and “Hey Girl” which had “Nasim Joon” as the introduction with an amazing saxophone solo. They also played some more recent favorites like “Love and Memories” and “Shattered” which had the crowd going nuts. Their newest and most popular single played was “Heaven” and some others they tried out from KING were “Dangerous Connection” and “Taking on the World Today” which was an upbeat and fun song they added to the mix.
Before ending the night they brought out SOJA who jammed out with O.A.R to “Stir-It-Up”. The combination of instrumentalists on stage, was incredible to hear. They also came back out for their encore which of course was “Crazy Game of Poker” which was no surprise to anyone as the decks of cards were tossed through the air and the audience danced and ended the night on just the right note. We had a great time and found an excellent new artist too!
Be sure to check out what’s next at CMAC by going to: www.cmacevents.com. (Photo by Wade Holdraker)