Where do you start with a title like that? I go to concerts for one of two reasons. The band or the venue. In this case I got both. Just a week ago I read that Red Rocks was listed as one of the top ten venues in the United States to see a show at. That is a high bar considering the sheer number of venues in the US. Self-described as being a magical, spiritual and emotional stage that artists aspire to play.
Now, after visiting Red Rocks I will without question agree and add that of the 100s of venues around the world I have seen live music at, Red Rocks is by far the most beautiful and tranquil venue I have ever visited. I have never been rendered speechless purely by walking into avenue. 250 millions of years in the making Red Rocks is constructed in a naturally accruing amphitheater that even the ancient Greeks couldn’t top, situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains 6,450 above sea level and just about 30 minutes outside of Denver. You can get to Red Rocks quicker than you can get to Denver international Airport and security at Red Rocks is much nicer and friendlier than the TSA. But bring your walking shoes because this is a venue you will also have to hike from the parking lot to your seat. The walking will be well worth it once you get inside and are struck with the sheer beauty of this venue.
The stage is settled low with a beautiful natural stone back drop that while breath taking to look at also focus all the sound up to the crowd who are flanked on each side by 100 foot tall red layered rocks formations. No lawn seats at this amphitheater, Stadium seating for 9,425 of your closest friends is cut into the mountain all the way up to the top. It’s no wonder this place is listed as a national landmark and its stage has seen the likes of The Beatles, U2, Sting and a host of other big name acts. If you are ever in Denver make it a point to go see a show there, any show, just make sure you go.
Probably should have lead with the band since Red Rocks is a tall act to follow. However Red Rocks I think brings the best out in everyone who enters its gates. “Of A Revolution” (O.A.R) took the stage at Red Rocks for their 11 visit on September 11th a cool Sunday evening under a beautiful star dotted sky and a nearly full moon. Full disclosure, I am a huge O.A.R. fan. Photographing them was once on my list of must do’s before I would consider myself successful as a concert photographer (Contributing to a music blog was another). I have seen them perform probably 20 times now and have been fortunate to photograph them 5 times. Each time I see them perform it becomes more apparent why they have been together so long and why their fan base continues to grow and be made up of such good hearted, fun and genuine, people
.Four guys from Rockville Maryland who started playing in their drummer’s basement in high school picked up the fifth member while all at Ohio State University and have all been together ever since. They are by all definitions a working band. Touring extensively each summer and adding smaller more intimate shows around the east coast in the winter. An American Rock Jam band with 9 studio albums and 3 live albums, one of which was recorded at Red Rocks. Marc Roberge on vocals and Chris Culos on Drums is where it all started, Benj Gershman on bass and Richard On taking the roll of lead guitar all form the founding 4. Jerry DePizzo is the magical fifth member and brings in the sweet Sax sound that they have become known for. Fast forward a few years and the likes of Mikel Paris would become a main stay at shows on Keys and over the last couple years Jon Lampley is blaring out the trumpet.
Unlike most bands I have covered, OAR seems to be a true family who enjoy sharing the stage with each other. They are one of the tightest bands I have ever seen perform with each member not only being locked in sync with each other but each person’s sound and personality compliments the band as a whole without over shadowing any one sound. This is why they have such an amazing following. These guys just simply love making music together and more importantly they genuinely just love performing for their fans.
This night they could have played off the emotions and significance of the day, but in my eyes they honored it in the best way possible. The day was not lost on them as they donated a portion of ticket sales to a veteran’s foundation and welcomed a veterans group to the show. But they didn’t commercialize or play off the emotions of the day. Instead they honored it by belting out a set list of 25 songs. Opening with “This Town”, tossing in 22 of their best hits and covering a fitting Cold Play song “Fix You”. Closing the night with the same energy they opened with by laying down a 13-minute rendition of “Crazy Game of Poker”. This is the song everyone has been waiting for. Everyone in the crowd knows that Crazy Game of Poker will be the last song of the night as it nearly always is. The energy in the venue soars as the unmistakable guitar lick starts, just as the first verse starts you realize the crowed seems to know the song as well as the band who have been performing it for 20 years now. At this point the air is filled with thousands of playing cards tossed into the air by fans, it’s like confetti except in reveres.
For the next 13 minutes everyone is lost in the moments. It’s one last chance to enjoy the evening for both the fans and the band in this magical venue tucked up in the red rocks of the Rocky’s. I am bias but I highly recommend you checking out O.A.R. the next time they come through your town and if you are ever in Denver don’t miss the opportunity to see a show at Red Rocks.
Have you seen O.A.R. live before? What did you think. Leave a comment below with your thoughts and preview their latest album 'XX 'below
Article by Nubbs