OAR has always seemed to occupy a parallel universe, a cultic otherness reminiscent of those Christian rock bands you’ve never heard of selling out 100,000-seat football stadiums. What I love about OAR is that they know it; they embrace it. Their press release states, “In effect hiding in plain sight from the world outside, the band fills arenas and amphitheaters as it crafts and releases relatable songs with big pop hooks, all of this activity going down completely apart from the mainstream. Within this universe, these songs are bona fide hits, and the band members are superstars.” Good on them for being at peace with it and grateful.
But I don’t get it. How out of place could OAR really be in a world that loves the Fray, Imagine Dragons, Jason Mraz and Jack’s Mannequin? Not very. Their career is based on the Dave Matthews model: Build a large and obsessed following the hard way, and they will come. As with a jam-rock phenomenon like Moe, when OAR. sells 20,000 seats night after night, it is very close to being the same 20,000 people each night. And you’d do it too, if you could. Their latest single teaser, “Just like Paradise,” delivers the emotionally rich, earthy-but-electro anthemic pop/rock for which their fans rely on them in spades.
OAR appears at the big shed at Bethel on Sunday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $39 to $79.50. For more information, visit www.bethelwoodscenter.org. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located at 200 Hurd Road in Bethel.