Despite the rain, hundreds of students filled McDonough Field last Friday for the annual Fall Band Party, which featured O.A.R as the main attraction.
The performance opened with Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, who drew a handful of students to the stage with their classic rock-gone-soul sound.
With enough energy in the performance to match the flashing lights on the stage, the band continuously showed appreciation to the small crowd of students throughout its performance.
“You’re all looking good, nice and wet!” said lead singer Jonathan Tyler. “Thanks for braving the weather. It’s gonna be a special one.”
Then the main act of the night, O.A.R., took the stage and expressed their gratitude similarly, but briefly, to a crowd that was beginning to swell.
“You braved the storm. Now we shall rock,” lead singer Marc Roberge said, hardly giving the audience time to hear his words before starting in on the music.
As soon as the band hit its first chords, students began jumping up and down with hands in the air, dancing and singing along. As the music continued, many students sat on each other’s shoulders, and some even crowd surfed.
“I thought they sounded fantastic. They were energetic and seemed to keep the crowd entertained,” College freshman Josh Booher said.
The musicians were eager to connect with students, encouraging them to have fun and even holding conversations with many students in between songs.
“I really liked O.A.R. because it wasn’t just a chore for them to be there for us,” College freshman Joel Dobben said. “They really connected personally with the audience and were solid performers.”
When Roberge wasn’t befriending individual students, he was addressing the crowd as a whole.
“Let’s dance for a little bit, OK?” Roberge said. “Don’t be shy. It’s easy to fake it. ... I’ve been doing it for an hour and a half.”
O.A.R. played a wide range of music from rock to the blues to music with an island sound. There was a little bit of everything to encompass the various music tastes of students, who filled half the field and continued to arrive throughout the night.
The band recognized the enthusiasm in the growing crowd.
“You guys are all so wavey and smiley!” Roberge said. “College wasn’t so wavey and smiley when I went through it the first time.”
While the band played songs from its new album, O.A.R. also brought back old favorites such as “On My Way,” the band’s favorite song, and “About Mr. Brown,” which was played in memory of the band’s friend Michael, who died a few years ago.
“We’d have a concert of 15 friends. It would rain, 11 of them would leave. ... Michael was always amongst the four who stayed. He was always there,” Roberge said as he introduced his friend’s favorite song.
Although students enjoyed the performance, some said they would have preferred some more familiarity.
“I felt like they could’ve played a couple of their more well-known songs,” Booher said. “More than once I heard people around me complaining about not knowing the song.”
When the band concluded its performance and began heading offstage, the roar of the crowd brought the members right back. Students such as Booher were granted their wish when the band came back to play some of their more popular songs, including “Shattered.” The crowd sang along so loudly that at times, Roberge would just hold his microphone out to the students, who chanted his lyrics back at him, instead of singing himself.
O.A.R. thanked the students for the experience and opportunity to perform and reminded everyone to visit the merchandise booth while throwing their guitar picks and drumsticks out to screaming fans.
“I feel like we’ve grown into a friendship here ... maybe even something more?” Roberge said, joking, “I feel vulnerable!”
The Fall Band Party was also host to the Eco-Village, a series of tents where students were able to make environment-friendly smoothies with the help of a bicycle, drink chocolate soymilk compliments of Silk and learn about green companies versus environmentally hazardous companies to avoid.
Student Programming Council President Zach Krame said that the event was a huge success and that the overall turnout was very good.
“We saw members of the University community including many graduate students and alumni,” Krame said. “Though the weather may have deterred some of the lackluster members of the student body, those who came to the concert were in for a real treat.”
Krame said he was impressed by the high energy of the students and their participation in the Eco-Village.
“We were all very pleased and relieved to see an event on which we had worked so hard to finally be complete,” Krame said.
— Contact Alice Chen.