Jam-band O.A.R. And Moe Pope Deliver At Conte
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 01:09
“I did not expect that,” commented Marc Roberge, lead singer of O.A.R., in response to a lively rendition of the chorus to the band’s 2008 hit “Shattered (Turn the Car Around),” belted well up into the Cathedral-like spaces of Conte Forum by this year’s Fall Concert attendees. “That was very loud, and very good.”
At this point, O.A.R.—the Maryland-based alternative jam band headlining this year’s Fall Concert—was seven songs deep in a career encompassing 115-minute set. Behind the loud, boisterous energy of the Friday evening audience was a similarly surprised sentiment, an unspoken echo to Roberge’s remarks. Boston College did not expect it—the aging band, which by industry calculations seems past its heyday, was very loud, and very good.
This year’s Fall Concert, sponsored by the UGBC, initially seemed to suffer from poor attendance. Making concessions for low ticket sales, the Fall Concert stage was turned 90 degrees from its traditional configuration, to face only one side of Conte Forum—a setup quite similar to that of ALC Showdown. The arena is a notoriously unforgiving space for musicians—a large, tinny catacomb, in which concerts typically go to die. By luck of the event’s early misfortune, the acoustic losses were generously compensated by a more intimate arrangement.
Unfortunately for opening act Moe Pope and Christopher Talkin, the crowds seemed dismal for the better part of their 7 p.m. performance—the space was populated quite aggressively in the few minutes before doors closed as 8 p.m. The indie-rapper duo, backed by synthesizer, live drums, and violin, performed a moving, lyrically dense, and sonically diverse set to a relatively unmoved Conte audience, which almost angrily started chanting “O.A.R.” at moments throughout the performance.
At one moment later into the duo’s 40-minute set, Talkin sat down on the front of the stage, resolving to sit so long as the audience did. The half-joking attempt to stir the deadpan crowd inspired a couple dozen to stand, but was largely ignored. After 15 seconds or so, Walkin retreated back onto the stage, giving Moe Pope a defeated look.
Among the highlights was Pope’s performance of “Amy Winehouse,” a song he wrote two years before the late singer’s 2011 death. The band played an extended version of the song, with Pope and Walkin screaming the song’s hook to each other (“Goodnight my friends / this is how my story ends / so don’t even pray for ’em / Too long to drift an outfitter between the bliss”). Pope’s producer, The Rain, mixed an impressively eclectic hip-hop sound, built into it elements of folk, screamo, and disco.
Alex Gaynor / Heights Editor
Following a 35-minute intermission, headliner O.A.R. took over the stage, opening with “About Mr. Brown,” a deep cut off the band’s 1997 album The Wanderer. The band was eager to display its massive, seemingly inexhaustible scope of sound, which was layered quite heavily for a five-piece band.
All members of O.A.R. are in their mid-30s, and the four original members have played together since 1996. On Friday, saxophonist Jerry DePizzo was missing from the lineup, due to the birth of his child. The chemistry of the band on stage, with many of its members having families of their own, was radically different from that of Moe Pope and company. The latter came across as pushing a product, while O.A.R. seemed content just telling its story. It’s an interesting dichotomy between the untempered, ambitious hip-hop opener and the well-established, confident jam band closer—especially considering O.A.R. is an acronym for “Of A Revolution.” Friday’s lineup operated almost as narrative, the tale of two revolutions.
O.A.R. worked some relatively obscure songs from the earlier part of their career into the first part of the show (“Dareh Meyod,” “Conquering Fools,” “About an Hour Ago”), picking up five songs in with a string of hits (“Hey Girl,” “Black Rock,” “Shattered (Turn the Car Around),” “Here’s To You”).
The band was succinct and surprisingly intense throughout, especially considering the more passive nature of their songwriting. With two guitars, a rig of keyboards and synthesizers, bass, and a traditional set of drums, O.A.R. battled through a series of unhinged jazz riffs, unapologetic drum releases, and gritty guitar solos, with a poise afforded to them by a long career. The set had a driving current running through it, only broken by a few brief, intimate moments of subdued acoustic guitar.