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O.A.R. coming back to O-H-I-O

30 p.m. Friday at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion. All five members of the band are OSU graduates.

O.A.R. is a widely known rock band, selling out venues such as Madison Square Garden and creating six studio albums throughout its 15-year history. However, the musicians never forget where the band got its start.

The five members of O.A.R. attended Ohio State, and got their start playing small shows wherever they could in front of any audiences that would listen.

“We would play anything and everything,” saxophonist Jerry DePizzo said. “We would play house parties, we would play frat parties, we would try to get into venues and things, but we were pretty young. We were 18 (and) 19 years old and there wasn’t a lot of venues that would have us at the time.”

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, the band will return to Columbus for a show at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion and DePizzo said each return is special for the band.

“Ohio State and Columbus is always going to be a bit of a special place in O.A.R.’s history and our hearts,” DePizzo said. “It’s certainly very nostalgic and a bit of a homecoming for the band to see that excitement and energy and to be in the place where a lot of the early stuff was written, and performed and honed in on in the beginning.”

Four of the band members, excluding DePizzo, grew up in Rockville, Md., and came to OSU with the band already formed. DePizzo, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, lived in Morrill Tower during his time at OSU, where he met singer Marc Roberge and drummer Chris Culos.

DePizzo said he always planned on attending Ohio University, but decided to attend OSU after talking to some of his friends from high school. He said the decision was something that “kinda worked out for me.”

DePizzo said he would hang out with the guys from the band and started to jam with the band whenever he could.

“One day at sound check, they were just like, ‘Well, bring your horn man,’ and that’s what I did and sound check turned into a show, which turned into pretty much all the shows.”

As the band’s popularity grew at OSU, O.A.R. was able to get in to venues such as the Newport, although DePizzo said the managers at the venues were reluctant to hire the band for a performance.

“They basically said we don’t know if you’re gonna draw an audience or not or anything like that, so for 1,500 bucks you can rent the place out and do whatever the hell you want,” DePizzo said. “So we did that and we filled the damn thing out.”

The Newport now costs around $5,000 to rent including set up, lights, staffing and other expenses, according to Promowest Productions event organizer Kathleen Cleary.

The band continued to play at the Newport for the next three years while attending OSU, then began playing in cities such as Athens, Oxford and Youngstown before branching out to cities in Indiana and the East Coast.

DePizzo said there has always been something in their music for everyone.

“We wrote tunes and material that people could really relate to, they could see themselves in the characters and in the stories,” DePizzo said. “It was fun, it was uplifting, it was light music, but at the same time, there were songs like ‘I Feel Home’ that really connected with people and it was because that was really what we were feeling at the time.”

Joey Carlson, a second-year in communications, will be attending his fifth O.A.R. show.

“I like listening to them because, yeah they play the same songs, but they play different variations every time,” Carlson said.

The band is enthused about returning to Columbus, DePizzo said.

“We’re excited to come back to Columbus,” DePizzo said. “It’s one that we really look forward to every year.”

Local Columbus band The Floorwalkers will open for O.A.R. on Friday, and proceeds will benefit the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Tickets are $45 from Ticketmaster and $39 through the LC Pavilion’s box office.

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