O.A.R. and Andy Grammer team up for electric Calvin Theater concert

By Jack Nichols

(Brian Bruemmer/Flickr)
(Brian Bruemmer/Flickr)

The masses at the Calvin Theatre rushed to gather in the standing area in front of the stage last Sunday night with the hopes of getting up close and personal with O.A.R. and Andy Grammer. Both acts performed an energetic and full three-hour show that catered to both hardcore followers and new fans.

The show opened with an incredible performance by Grammer. At first, when Grammer announced that he would be performing alone, most fans assumed he would simply sing over prerecorded instrumental tracks. But Grammer surprised everyone in the Calvin Theatre when he showed the full extent of his musical abilities. Before each of his new tracks, Grammer spent a considerable amount of time building layers before adding his own vocals.

Proving that no instrument is beyond his level of skill, he recorded and then looped sounds from snare drums, bass drums, keytars and crash cymbals. In this way, Grammer formed a cohesive sound similar to the one he achieved in his sophomore album, “Magazines or Novels.”

After Grammer took his leave, there was a distinctly awkward transition period. With two markedly different artists, members of the crowd seemed to have only come for one of the musicians. An exodus of Grammer fans from the Calvin left the theater feeling empty for a short amount of time.

When O.A.R. finally took the stage 45 minutes later, the audience that remained could not have been more ready. The band opened with “One Shot,” from its 2005 album “Stories of a Stranger.” With a very positive reaction from the crowd, the band continued to bring out gems from its back catalog at the beginning of its set.

As the crowd began to lose its vigor, O.A.R. quickly regained its energy with a take on “Two Hands Up,” the first track of the night from the band’s newest album, “The Rockville LP.” The group added a powerful twist to the song in its live performance. With pounding bass and drum lines accompanied by loud vocals, the crowd was inspired to get on their feet and throw their hands in the air.

But despite the success of this particular song, O.A.R. tended to stick to its older tracks for the remainder of the concert. Of the 18 songs the band played, only three came from “The Rockville LP.” Newer fans of the group were disappointed by the lack of big hits in the set list, but veteran fans were excited to hear deeper cuts such as “Sail Away,” a song that the band had not played in concert since 2007.

While O.A.R. played with the high energy that originally established them as a noted live band, the latter half of the concert seemed to be missing the passion necessary to keep the crowd energized. The songs slowly began to blend together, as each track had a fairly similar sound. This small downside was quickly alleviated by an outstanding encore that was worth the price of admission alone. At the concert’s end, O.A.R. reminded the audience why they are the professionals of live performance, as it powered through three of its most famous tracks.

“Peace” and “Patiently” were performed excellently and with a renewed sense of energy that superseded anything the crowd saw that night. Sunday night’s highlight came when the band introduced Grammer on “That Was A Crazy Game of Poker.” This proved to be an audience favorite, as the Calvin Theatre was rocked with the noise of a joyful crowd. It was a beautiful salute to the finale of what was, overall, a well-performed concert.

The strange mash-up of Andy Grammer and O.A.R. at the Calvin Theatre proved to be a remarkable success, as the two acts combined to perform a great show. Grammer used his talent to shock the crowd, while O.A.R. fulfilled its hype as an excellent live band.

Jack Nichols can be reached at [email protected]