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O.A.R.: My first 9:30 show

The First in Line is all about live music. We also love hearing about your love for live music. So... we wanted to take part in the celebration of 9:30 Club's 35 years in existence and their new book, 9:30: A Time and A Place, by telling our stories of the place that means so much to music-lovers everywhere. Here's my first 9:30 Club experience. What's yours? Tell your story and write to us at

By Thanksgiving break in 2001, I had started my 3rd year of college in NC. I had no idea what I was doing in school, or life. Actually, I still don’t know but at least now I’m making progress towards being okay with not knowing. I was 20 years old when I attended my first concert at 9:30 Club. O.A.R was our flavor of choice that night, and they were not only performing -- they were also recording their first ever live album that night.

My hometown in MD was a small one and unique because of it. We had the best of both worlds because we were among big cities, sitting right outside DC and Baltimore and a part of one of the best school systems on the East Coast. Our small-town vibe made for a great atmosphere where we ‘knew everyone’. I have a great group of friends from high school that still make an effort in each others’ lives today. Back then, coming home was a chance to reconnect, fall in love with each other again and share how much we had grown.

That year, coming home for Thanksgiving break was emotional. Coming home was always a roller-coaster ride of emotions anyways, but this was the year of 9/11. Nothing had returned to normal yet (or was it now the new-normal?). After those harrowing days in September, I wrote letters to family members and close friends making sure to state my love for them in case they hadn’t already been aware. This was the first time seeing people in person, though. There were a lot of Kennedy-esque conversations: Where were you that day? There were a few conversations about classmates and their families hoping to ensure all was okay. Most were; some were not.

After reconnecting and spending time with family for Thanksgiving Thursday, that Friday after the holiday brought us to 9:30 Club. O.A.R. are from our county and were in school at the same time we were. In fact, one of our best friends dated a guy who was a year younger at the same high school as O.A.R. See, we knew everyone. Their hit “It was a Crazy Game of Poker” had been playing at frat houses everywhere for a few years by now. “Hey Girl” blasted from many a stereos in the days leading up to this show. Their track, “I Feel Home” was the soundtrack to this weekend, to our lives: ‘We got nothing to do / but when I look at you / I see something that I know and love / and with the crack of smile / we all stay awhile’.

We knew their music; we ‘knew’ them; we were pumped for this show. The girls climbed in the car and after assuring our mothers that we knew where we were going and what we were doing (okay, so that was a lie) we made our way into DC. At this point in my life, I didn’t realize the importance of 9:30 Club to the music world. In fact, I didn’t realize it until I made my way back to N.C. and other people had to tell me how cool it was. All I remember about that night was how it was packed to the brim with people, passion, community… and music, of course.

When the album that was recorded that night, Any Time Now, came out in 2002, I bought it with a sense of pride. I was there! I was at this show! In the days, months and years since that show, I have attended hundreds of other concerts and added many shows to my concert resume. I have realized that no matter if you’re at 9:30 Club for an album recording or just a regular concert -- a live show always provides that special feeling.



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