Although most of its members hail from elsewhere, Ohio can claim a little local pride when the subject of O.A.R. arises.
The band coalesced in the mid-’90s when Marc Roberge, Chris Culos, Richard On and Benj Gershman started Of a Revolution in their hometown of Rockville, Md., while still in high school. Having already released their debut album, The Wanderer, in 1997, the quartet moved en masse to Columbus to attend Ohio State, keeping the band together to play every available fraternity/sorority/bar gig in the area, ultimately recording their sophomore release, 2000’s Souls Aflame.
Taking a page from Dave Matthews’ informal marketing strategy, O.A.R. relied heavily on word of mouth publicity and actively encouraged recording of their live shows, which created a loyal community of tape traders.
After adding Youngstown native Jerry DePizzo, O.A.R. released their third album, 2001’s Risen, which proved the wisdom of their grassroots approach by coming in just under the Top 10 in Billboard’s Internet Sales Chart. In 2002, O.A.R.’s fourth album, Any Time Now, cracked the Billboard Top 200 chart and earned them a contract with Lava Records, which gave the band complete creative control. Wise move on their part — 2005’s Stories of a Stranger debuted at No. 40 on Billboard’s Top 200 and spawned a trio of successful singles, an appearance on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and a sold-out gig at Madison Square Garden.
Last year was a breakthrough one for O.A.R., as the band’s sixth album, All Sides, and its first single “Shattered (Turn the Car Around),” became their biggest hits to date, earning lucrative TV exposure on ESPN and Ford commercials as well as placement on the Twilight soundtrack. Got a revolution, got to revolution.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)