LEWISTON – Artpark, on a summer’s eve, with a slight breeze blowing up from the gorge behind the stage and an audience pumped to see a couple bands rip their way through a batch of tunes, is a good place to be. That was certainly the case on Wednesday evening when O.A.R. (a.k.a. Of A Revolution) was the headliner and the support acts were nearly perfect in their roles.
O.A.R.’s reggae/ska inflected soundscape was in full effect and the audience welcomed them with a sea of waving hands and dancing feet. As the first notes of “About Mr. Brown” chimed through the air, streams of acolytes converged around the front of the stage.
Where once there was a relatively open space, bodies migrated en masse to fill the gap. These were the fans that didn’t seem to care how much room was between them and their neighbors as long as they got to see the musicians up close and personal.
As for the rest of the fans, they made do.
Nearly everyone was on their feet, mouthing lyrics, dancing, striking air guitar poses, and, demonstrating the grip that O.A.R. has on their fan base, a grip that has been tightened in the 18 years they’ve been on the road and developing an audience.
If you didn’t know the names of the tunes in the set list, you would have been out of luck but it seemed as if nearly every person in attendance knew what to expect from the opening chords of any particular tune. “Black Rock”, “Love and Memories”, “Night Shift”, and “Shattered” all whipped by with nary an announcement of what was going to be played or what had been played. It was a show for the cognoscenti.
The horn section was solid, Richard On’s guitar playing was tight and focused and lead singer/master-of-ceremonies Marc Roberge made sure that the fans knew they were appreciated.
Phillip Phillips was the other draw on the ticket. While he didn’t have as deep a catalog as O.A.R., Phillips was banking on two albums worth of solid pop tunes, the recordings made possible by winning American Idol a few years back.
“Lead On” was the first song up and set the stage for a high-energy performance that would prove to be a near perfect setup for the headliners. Phillips’ hits like “Get Up Get Down”, “Gone, Gone, Gone” and “Home”, the “coronation” song from his American Idol performances, generated plenty of heat from fans. His band was pretty solid, too.
The Saints of Valory weren’t even listed on the bill of fare for the evening but this young Austin, Texas-based quartet made a few new fans by their appearance at ArtPark. They were polished, professional, and although there were moments where U2’s sound crept into the mix, the possibilities for a place as a headliner wouldn’t be that big a stretch if they keep progressing.
What: O.A.R. and Phillip Phillips
When: Wednesday night
Where: Artpark, Lewiston