OAR w/ Matt Nathanson and The New Respects
Showbox SoDo, Seattle, WA

“Cult following” is a term attributed to many things in the pop zeitgeist. Whether it be a book, TV show, comedian, or movie, it is becoming more used than ever. Perennial jam-rock favorites OAR started on college campuses as that band with a cult following, now they are headlining national tours, but with the humility of days past.

Opening the night were Nashville’s The New Respects. To say that they began the night with a bang would be an understatement. Their brand of soulful rock (reminiscent of Living Colour) is face-melting. On tour in support of their debut album, Before The Sun Goes Down, they made the most of their time in front of the Seattle audience. From beginning to end, their set contained furtive guitar riffs (Alexandria Fairchild is a beast on the axe), funky bass grooves, soulful singing, synchronized dancing, and complex drum beats. The energy they unleashed set the tone for a great night of different musical styles; those who came late truly missed out.

Matt Nathanson is a veteran of pop music and he showed that confidence throughout a set of hits and some fantastic banter. With his new album, Sings His Sad Heart, coming out on October 1, the set had something for everyone. Opening with fan favorite, “Giants,” showcased his passionate vocals and pop sensibilities. Over the years, he has moved away from his balladeer status and has established himself as a popular troubadour of modern pop.

It wasn’t all fun and upbeat numbers from Nathanson, though, as he brought the crowd back down with the well-known “All We Are,” deep cut “Lost Myself in Search Of You,” and “Mine,” a single off his new album. Nathanson always has fun with the crowd, bantering back and forth about everything from putting suntan lotion on a random stranger to his tales from massage parlors. However, he did take a serious turn when he commented on today’s emotional climate, he simply told everyone that we need each other. It was a solid set from a musician who absolutely and genuinely loves being on stage.

OAR, the band from Rockville, MD made Seattle’s Showbox SoDo the last stop of their Just Like Paradise tour. Known for their infectious hooks and jams, they have lost no step in the realm of musicianship. From Richard On’s guitar solos to Jerry DiPizzo’s incendiary saxophone solos, there are no kinks in their armor when it comes to performance.

Every song seemed like a sing-along during their 2-hour set. Rock love songs “Hey Girl” and “Love and Memories” made the crowd jump and tender ballads “Peace” and “Heard the World” brought tenderness to the room. Marc Roberge continues to be as engaging a front man in the music scene, which complements the overall energy and love that OAR gives the crowd. This is the main reason that OAR has such a loyal following.

Three different styles of music yielded the same result for the crowd: dancing, singing, jumping, laughing, and smiles. There is no more cult following for any of these artists.

Review and photos by Phillip Johnson


Matt Nathanson

The New Respects