O.A.R. (an acronym for Of A Revolution) emerged from the college indie rock scene in the late 1990s. It was a time “of a revolution” for indie artists thanks in part to the file-sharing pioneer Napster and others that provided a vehicle for unsigned indie bands to share their music with a larger audience and potentially open up touring possibilities beyond a regional reach.
Both O.A.R. and Dispatch benefited from those new technologies. A worldwide web of possibilities allowed them to get their music to the masses without support from a major record label.
O.A.R. recorded their first album in their basement and then hit the road to build their fan base one hard charging live show at a time. They scored their first college radio hit with the reggae/rock fusion “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker,” a song about a poker game with the devil. With that success, O.A.R. signed with a major record label and released a string of hits such as “Shattered (Turn the Car Around)” and “Love and Memories.”
The band gathered a large fan following on the road over the years. Relentless touring and three full-length live albums demonstrate their commitment to those audiences. Their sound blends alt-rock guitar riffs with festive reggae rhythms and surf and jazz inflections. Unlike more traditional alt-rock bands who rely on guitars to build a wall of sound, O.A.R. brings in a sax to deliver a rich soulfulness.
O.A.R. is touring in support of a recently dropped album The Arcade. Its first single and accompanying video “In the Clouds” provides a contemporary jazzy sound while retaining a youthful rock playfulness.
Co-headlining is the New England-based band Dispatch. Like O.A.R., they formed in the late ’90s playing the college rock circuit with their own blend of reggae-infused jam rock. Dispatch never enjoyed the commercial success of O.A.R., but they built a huge fan base with their epic live performances. Despite the lack of a mega-hit single, the band amassed an impressive catalog of well-crafted tunes. How many under-the-radar indie rock bands can sell out three nights at Madison Square Garden?
Dispatch is a socially-conscious roots rock band that blends folk, punk and blues and sprinkles in some reggae to keep the mood light. Their anti-war anthem “The General” is a great example of their musical and lyrical prowess. They even recorded a version of the song in Russian!
Opening the festivities is a solo set by G. Love (he usually tours with his band Special Sauce.) G. Love (aka Garrett Dutton) is a Grammy-nominated artist who blends old-school blues with hip hop, R&B and funk.
It’s hard to imagine O.A.R.’s “Shattered (Turn the Car Around) topped the charts nearly 15 years ago. Are we talking Millennial nostalgia? Is that even a thing? Still, a good high-energy show transcends any generational era. On July 29 the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre is hosting a trifecta of stellar live performers that’ll bring the crowd to their feet. I suspect the Garden will be packed with music fans from the Baby Boom to Gen Alpha and all stops in between.
- Who: O.A.R., Dispatch, and G. Love
- What: Reggae-infused indie rock
- Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
- When: July 29, 2022
- Tickets and info: redbuttegarden.org