O.A.R. (w/ Parachute) 01/27/12
House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
I have talked a lot of shit about O.A.R. By a lot of shit, I mean trolled the message boards known as O.A.R. fans for years. Most of my shit talking took place in off topic forums, but I made my distaste for the group’s music well known. So when I say I talked a lot of shit about O.A.R., I am talking years of trolling. In an odd yet not unexpected turn of events, I managed to win many over on the board and even became pals with a few of them. One of those friends came into town this week to catch the bands shows in Anaheim and West Hollywood and was kind enough to bring me along. We met up with another Pub 24 (AKA what the cool kids call the O.A.R. board) vet and did the Sunset Strip right on a Friday night.
The night kicked off with openers Parachute. The best thing about their set was House of Blues re-tweeting the photo we took and posted online. Don’t get me wrong 1197 people inside the venue will tell you that they were great. This is because they are simple people who like simple music and/or females under the age of 17. For these individuals, Parachute are perfect. The music was basic, somewhere between a frat house and the iPod of a Volvo driving mother of two. I understand that some people really like that type of music and had Parachute done this genre well I would go easy on them. My problem is that they did everything wrong. Having already worked the length of the guard rail with high-fives to everyone within arm’s reach during the second song of the set, lead singer Will Anderson jumped into the crowd around the mid-way point of the set. Jumping up and down singing the word Baby over and over as if he was Justin Bieber, you could just tell he does this every night. It was not a spontaneous rock and roll moment as much as it was forced and generic. As he tricked little girls into thinking he was a rebel, I pondered dumping my beer onto Mr. Anderson from the balcony above. Things only got worse when the group performed an uninspired cover of the Tom Petty classic “Won’t Back Down.” Hell the entire second half of the show felt like covers when you throw in a few verses of U2’s “With Or Without You” and closing number that had the exact same intro as Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Parachutes are pineapple on pizza and sitting down to pee. Totally acceptable for the ladies and an overall disappointment to the male species. I expect they will make it big performing their bland adult contemporary rock, because let’s face it the world needs another version of All American Rejects.
Before I even made it into House of Blues, I knew even if O.A.R. was torture upon my ear drums I would have a good time with the folks I was with. As it turned out, O.A.R. wasn’t torture at all. The Dave Matthews gone Reggae thing never really tickled my fancy and the highlight of the two shows I saw nearly a decade ago was the opening set from a then unknown Maroon 5. For me the 2012 trip to O.A.R. town was a nice mix of older songs I vaguely knew and some interesting new material. Two early on highlights of tolerable O.A.R. moments of yesteryear were “City On Down” and “Black Rock.” Dare I say the later was one of my favorites and I was glad to see it is still in rotation.
The thing that most impressed me was Jerry DePizzo on guitar. I don’t remember him playing guitar when I last saw them but he should ditch the sax and stick with it. DePizzo has an excellent ear for tones that beef up music that has always been too bland for my tastes. I understand that many feel that “Shattered” is the sellout point, but the guitar work of DePizzo on it was the best thing I heard all night. I also enjoyed the new number “Irish Rose” but I seem to be one of only a few who does as that was one of the few moments during the two hour show where drunk sluts managed to drown out the band with their moans for black cock (I am not making this up).
The energy inside the club (which was sold out for weeks) was intense. Knowing the band can pack 15,000+ seat venues back east, the crowd (made up of transplants and 14 people born within the state of California) truly erupted for the last song of the night. “Crazy Game of Poker” was the biggest gun in the O.A.R. arsenal a decade ago and it’s nice to see that is still the case. The throwing of cards at the band is a nice touch and I dug the vagina/lasagna rap that took place well past the 10 minute mark. It was a random and fun way to end a night with some truly incredible people. O.A.R. has come a long way since the days I trolled Pub24, and it was nice to reconnect with the boys from Maryland.