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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Just plain revolting

Published: March 17, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Within seconds of the exceptional bass-line cutting into the writhing hardcore guitar lick on Sunny Day Real Estates In Circles, the revolutionary vibrations of the bands sound continued to travel with the breathtaking single twelve years after Diary was released. The widely acclaimed album has become a cornerstone for practically every modern rock album in the past decade, influencing the ever-changing face of music, the way Nirvanas Nevermind has affected aspiring musicians. While most bands that have ripped off of Sunny Day Real Estates unique and enticing sound tend to exude nothing more than mediocrity, staleness, and a formulaic sound, the album that helped launch an incredibly diverse and controversial genre sounds as fresh as the day it was printed, packaged, and pressed for release. While Diary and Sunny Day Real Estate continue to offer an invigorating and rewarding experience after repeated encounters, one modern act only offers the banal opposite that the unique Sunny Day Real Estate have offered millions: O.A.R.

The decision by Student Events to have O.A.R. perform on Wednesday, March 29th may be the worst choice for a concert at Brandeis in recent memory. With the $50,000 or so that O.A.R. was listed as having cost for under booking agency Pretty Polly Productions (, Student Events could have chosen any number of musical acts that wouldve better benefited the student body as a whole. During the decision making process, the following bands were listed as being available for around the same price as O.A.R.;

Ashanti, the B-52s, B.B. King, Bravery, Bright Eyes, Busta Rhymes, Cake, Ciara, Common, Cypress Hill, Deftones, Five For Fighting, G. Love and the Special Sauce, Garbage, George Clinton and P. Funk, Hoobastank, Hot Hot Heat, India.Arie, Keane, Live, Method Man, Mudvayne, New Found Glory, New York Dolls, Our Lady Peace, Shaggy, Sugar Ray, T.I., Wu Tang Clan (sans O.D.B.), and Yellowcard. If Student Events wanted to put a little more money into the big concert, they couldve opted for the Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, or even the combination of Death Cab for Cutie and Franz Ferdinand. Or Student Events could have opted to do a festival-type show, using the outrageous amount of money they spent on O.A.R. and put it towards a combination for a number of diverse acts that would appeal to all Brandeis students: anything from Atmosphere ($10,000-$15,000), to Broken Social Scene ($20,000), to Reel Big Fish ($15,000), to Muse ($15,000), to Devotchka ($7,500-$10,000). Despite all wonderful options that were available (and any number of options that would engorge this article), Student Events has opted to go for the worst possible choice with O.A.R.

In the past couple of years, theres no question that a portion of the student body has been more than a little upset with the choices for the big semester concert;

its only now that I find myself among that population of people. My first semester, I found myself snatching up handfuls of tickets for Wilco, a band I could hardly recognize when their songs blasted from my friends speakers. I similarly grabbed (and then returned) tickets for friends reluctant to go to a concert featuring Mos Def;

the same thing happened with Talib Kweli this past semester. None of the previous concerts have featured a single act I would listen to repeatedly, yet I happily grabbed tickets, excited at the chance to see a concert on campus with my friends, have an enjoyable time experiencing new music, and supporting the campus social life. Yet, now Im ultimately disgusted and have strong feelings of contempt at the choice of a band that sounds like an extremely boring third-tier jam act covering U2;

an act that completely lacks any interesting musical depth, producing music that I can only imagine was the worst form of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Theres no question that Im slightly biased against the band;

I grew up with contempt for O.A.R., otherwise known as the random semi-local act that would play Guitar Center openings in the middle of nowhere. Although the idea of supporting a local act is one that has brought me in touch with the D.C. punk scene I love, the complete lack of any original musical ingenuity within O.A.R. offers a stark difference from the groundbreaking work of actual bands such as the ever-important Fugazi. In fact, both these bands offer stark differences to one another in their ideology of how to make a band;

Fugazi was built on do-it-yourself ideals, artistic ingenuity, and an overall thirst for self-improvement. O.A.R. is simply the token college band that managed to lurch onto the jam band scene and gain a following through massive touring on the jam circuit and support from Clear Channel radio stations across the nation. Yet, constant radio play doesnt denote talent, as acts ranging from Nickelback to O-Town have shown the greater public;

if anything the consistent repetition of nonsense that O.A.R. has produced as music should be enough to turn off most of America. Take some of the lyrics to their current hit, Love and Memories, a song that truly represents the bands blandness;

You were amazing to me/I was amazing to you/But here we go again But here we go again was the exact phrase I thought as I was forced to hear that song repeatedly played on every Clear Channel station in the D.C. metro area;

the lyrics are senseless and meaningless, on par with U2s Vertigo, which in some ways means O.A.R. are achieving their ideal of ripping off U2 (youd just think theyd decide to rip off The Joshua Tree). Rolling Stone summed it up best with their 2 out-of 5 star rating for the bands 2003 effort, In Between Now and Then, declaiming the bands overall lack of musical imagination.

In the end, this is just one persons opinion: mine. I dont expect anyone to necessarily follow my advice of avoiding O.A.R. and not going to see the concert;

in fact, I know I will be missing the big concert event of the semester due to my inability to find enjoyment in a band that I feel is incredibly overrated. This is merely a warning to the student body at large, as well as a message to Student Events;

this isnt the first time that a portion of the population of the student body has been upset with a choice of performer for a big semester concert, and it certainly wont be the last time either. The only difference is the level of disappointment with the concert choice has, for the first time in recent memory, caused someone to actually speak out against the decision in a public forum normally used to praise the decisions made by student organizations. Thats all this event really comes down to;

my feelings are not necessarily feelings of anger, ambivalence, or apathy, but disappointment.