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O.A.R. owns the stage

Adriana Pratt | Monday, April 11, 2011

Of A Revolution (O.A.R.) gave Notre Dame students exactly what they were looking for Friday night: an excuse to be carefree, happy, maybe a little tipsy and completely at ease while they listened to music that brought them back to a time before finals and parietals.

Chiddy Bang’s opening performance got the crowd ready for what would be a night of raucous but surprisingly coordinated jumping, singing, moshing and the occasional crowd-surfing. After the duo exited the stage, O.A.R. slid smoothly into place and did what they do best: play for college crowds.

The band, which gathered its college cult following while studying and performing at Ohio State, warmed the audience up with an easy performance of “Black Rock,” then followed with their more recent hit “This Town.” The set list, which contained a mix of more popular O.A.R. anthems like “Love and Memories” and new material such as “Over and Over,” kept the concert’s rhythm pleasantly paced.

Mark Roberge, the lead singer, wasn’t shy showing his love to the audience and students were even more shameless returning such. It would have been almost impossible to hear the band’s croon over the excited clapping and chanting from the crowd if it wasn’t for the resonating clarity of Roberge’s voice.

The audience latched onto the band’s every lyric, belting each line without fail. We went with them and let ourselves go, broke with them till they shattered and put behind any griping that went out to SUB for picking what some called a “has-been” act. When O.A.R. asked “how bout a revolution” there wasn’t a “no” in the building. Notre Dame was happy to drown deep inside O.A.R.’s water and especially thrilled to drown deep inside their sound.

The band kept the audience guessing and gave a special preview of material to come with their performance of “Over and Over.” The ballad, slower than most other O.A.R. tunes, towed a simple but potent line. Jerry DePizzo, the band’s saxophonist, listed “Over and Over” as one of his favorites, even though he doesn’t perform in the actual song.

“It’s a really great song and it’s just the piano with Mark singing,” DePizzo said Tuesday. “There’s not a whole hell of a lot of instrumentation, but it’s super powerful, well-written too.

“For being a ballad-type tune … you would think that it doesn’t work in a lot of situations. But it always tends to, regardless of how rowdy the audience is, or how ill fitting the situation may be. It always seems to come through and really react with people and that’s a cool thing to watch.”

Students did react to the performance — with resounding applause and cheers. Toward the end, they chanted for “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” and got exactly that, but with a twist.

The band closed the show with the old-school hit that made them famous, but kept it fresh with an impromptu rap from Chiddy. Roberge took a turn at freestyle and the two kept the beat pulsing through the crowd for an impressively long final performance. The back-and-forth between the two acts was the perfect end to a night in Stepan and the perfect start to South Bend’s first sunny weekend of the year.