Oliver Hazard at Rumba Cafe: Their First Columbus Show
Two weeks ago when I had heard that Oliver Hazard would be blowing into town to take the stage at Rumba Cafe, I scrambled to check my work schedule, hoping I would be free of obligations to the place that supplies my paycheck. Indeed I was.
My soon to be wife and I arrived shortly after the opening act, James Michael Meadows, had gotten underway. They too brought with them a minimal source of sounds having only an acoustic guitar, a xylophone, and the uninhibited voice of vocalist, you guessed it, James Michael Meadows. Supporting him on xylophone was his wife Nikole Meadows (yeah, I Facebook crept for that bit of info). Together they put forth an intimate, and at times driving performance highlighted by the unforgiving vocals of Mr. Meadows. His exclaiming stories over the chimes of xylophone and percussive rhythms of acoustic guitar felt honest, and I'd be lying if I said they didn't have me moving around a bit. They were having a noticeably good time playing for us which I enjoyed seeing just as much as I enjoyed the actual music. I wish I had made it sooner considering that their set seemed to end in a flash. I will certainly keep an eye out for these two again though.
In between sets I made my way to the merch table to grab a T-shirt. There I was helped by Oliver Hazard guitarist/shakering-tambourinist Devin. During our brief conversation, he professed his appreciation for us coming out multiple times before I went on to tell him of my experience catching them at Bonnaroo. He replied by saying he hoped they would be able to recreate the same experience for us tonight. I wasn't doubtful.
Soon after Oliver Hazard took the stage and I couldn't help but get the chills recalling that Bonnaroo set. The place went quiet(ish) as their vocal harmonies filled the room from the floor up, and from that moment on they presented with the same degree of precision and character as they did the last time I had seen them. The setlist, given their short existence, was nearly identical only shuffling the order a bit. By this time though I had listened to their album a couple dozen times thus making it a different experience.
Another difference I had noticed was their increased incorporation of the electric guitar, a change I fancied. The two or three new tunes they played all included some spacey reverberating electric guitar that added a delightful new dimension to their stripped-down style. They even brought it in on some of their first album songs where it was previously unused. Despite my appreciation of their acoustic style, I must admit the addition of some amplified strings was a tasty treat. Being such a young band who's just now really beginning to explore different arrangements and sonic possibilities to accompany their heartfelt stories, there are many directions in which they could comfortably progress. With their growing success comes the opportunity to direct their focus more towards their music. From that, I believe we'll see more complexity and experimentation in the albums to come from this trio.
From the cheering and applause that ensued after each song, I was induced with the belief that they were well received. They mentioned themselves that they were impressed by the weeknight turnout at their first Columbus show. It indeed won't be the last time they grace us with their presence in the capital city. I'm willing to bet they'll be around again before years end, just as the sophomore album from these three likely will be.
Ohio Tour Dates
July 21st @ Relax, It's Just Coffee - Mansfield, OH
August 10th @ Promenade Park Stage - Toledo, OH
August 17th @ Rhythm and Brews Route 33 - Wapakoneta, OH
August 23rd @ Beachland Ballroom w/ Mount Joy - Cleveland, OH
August 26th @ Wadsworth Brewing Company - Akron, OH