Wednesday, October 29, at Liberty Hall.

Spearhead with O.A.R. 

Wednesday, October 29, at Liberty Hall.

Michael Franti is the Chuck D. that time forgot. As the mastermind and mouth behind the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, the Spearhead leader created one of the most poignant political screeds of the early '90s, "Television, the Drug of the Nation." After DHH imploded, Franti continued under the Spearhead banner, matching knee-deep funk and buoyant beats long before the G-Funk era came to fruition. The highlight of Spearhead's 1994 debut was "Hole in the Bucket," which showcased Franti's urgently laid-back patter and his keen eye for lyrical observation. Onstage, the dreadlocked Franti is equal parts revival preacher and hip-hop godfather, imploring concertgoers to think as they groove.

O.A.R. has been known to find the groove as well, though the whole jam-band-grassroots-success-story thing cuts two ways. There's a tug-of-war between down-home, word-of-mouth popularity and gaining mainstream cred as something other than a neocounterculture curiosity. With its latest studio effort, In Between Now and Then, it appears that the Maryland-born jam quintet wants to have its veggie burrito and eat it, too. A major label, a radio cut and a music video show the band's marketing evolution, but O.A.R. remains firmly tied to its improv-oriented ska-reggae roots. The group straddles the fence, but devoted fans don't seem to mind. It remains to be seen whether anyone else will take notice.

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