Oliver Hazard band members (l-r) Mike Belazis, Griffin McCulloch and Devin East in the stands at Fifth Third Field, where they will play a concert on Thursday, September 24. Photo credit: Nick Corbin.
The easygoing melodies of Waterville band Oliver Hazard will make history on Thursday, September 24 as the first band to perform a concert in the outdoor confines of Fifth Third Field— Rise Up LIVE!
In a way, it’s lucky that the members of the group are used to playing small gigs in very, very small venues. At the beginning of 2019, Oliver Hazard embarked on a Living Room Tour, eschewing the usual bars and clubs for even more intimate confines. The fact that they’re used to having limited equipment made the Fifth Third gig possible.
“I think they haven’t had major artists come through there because, what were they saying, they can’t get a flatbed truck on the field?” band member Griffin McCulloch said.
“We lucked out because we don’t require a semi-truck to do a concert on the field,” Mike Belazis said.
The event will be the first “socially distanced concert” in the city. The outfield of the stadium will be divided into square “pods” that will hold anywhere from 2 to 8 people. Pods will be positioned ten feet from each other, and individuals are required to wear masks when not in their pod. Add in seating in the stands (which will also be divided into pods) and the capacity for the concert will be roughly 600 people.
The three members of Oliver Hazard will be positioned on a stage in left field, right underneath the video monitor. The group had actually been planning a concert at Fifth Third for a while now, originally scheduled to take place in June.
“We’ve really been careful about not taking any work, just because we don’t feel like we, as three individuals, have the infrastructure to make a safe event,” band member Devin East said. “But the reason we decided to do this was because we really trust Hensville as an organization, as an event organization, and they seem to really have their structure dialed.”
Off the beaten path
For Oliver Hazard, the Fifth Third concert is another step in the off-center journey they’ve taken. The group formed in 2016, practically by accident. “Mike was living across the country, he came home for a couple weeks during the holidays, because he was working a seasonal job,” McCulloch said. “We started playing music together just for fun, and then we won a recording contest for free through Bigfoot Studios in Waterville.”
The trio wrote and recorded an EP over a two week period. Mike flew back home to California, his holiday break over. Then he started sharing the CD they had created with a few friends. Then those friends shared it with other friends. Then, a small label decided to pick up the group.
The band always wanted to stay off the beaten path of the Toledo music scene, though they always strived to involve fellow area artists and remain part of the creative community. “Our number one theory was to try to avoid the local music venues at all costs and try to throw our own DIY parties,” Belazis said. “We would actually call local businesses around Northwest Ohio and see if we could use their space after hours, as a venue, and then invite people to these kind of BYOB parties.”
The Hazard trio hopes that they can capture that same feeling in the much roomier confines of Fifth Third on September 24. “I hope that it can bring some lightness to whatever is going on in the world right now. I think it’s somewhat of a musician’s job to be somewhat of a distraction in these times, and I’m glad we can do that,” East said.
$20— outfield lawn. $15— seating bowl
Showtime: 6:30pm, gates open at 5:30.
Fifth Third Field, 406 Washington St.
419-725-4367 | mudhens.com