Of a Revolution

With the Virginia Coalition. Friday, January 26, at the Agora.

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Safety Dobama Theatre, 1846 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights Through February 10

216-932-3396

Made up of five enterprising young dudes from Ohio State University, Of a Revolution (O.A.R.) has fashioned itself after the Dave Matthews Band and as a result is one of the region's most compelling success stories. To date, the group has sold over 35,000 copies of two self-produced, self-released, essentially live CDs: The Wanderer and Souls Aflame, while throwing frat party-esque concerts in major cities (consistently selling out Columbus's Newport Music Hall, the city's largest non-arena venue) and every major college town hundreds of miles in any direction. Its first proper studio album, Risen, will arrive in early February. Bitter local scenesters who have toiled in experimental bands for years without enjoying the same success might think the band has become too popular. Maybe. O.A.R. is great at what it does, but what it does is very white-bread guitar pop the band describes as "island vibe roots rock" (saxophone provides the "vibe"). The lyrics flirt with religious imagery à la Creed, while the basic sound -- noodling electric guitars, folksy acoustic guitars, reggae rhythms, and catchy sing-along choruses -- translates into second-rate Dave Matthews every time. Still, it's hard to blame O.A.R. for finding a marketable sound and honing it to perfection. The live performances are anthemic, camaraderie-building keg-party monstrosities for hippies and frat kids alike.

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