Artist to Watch: Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer is a duo from Belfast, Ireland, who recently finished a U.S. tour opening for They Might Be Giants.

I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t care at all for opening acts, but I have had pretty good success at seeing openers who went on to bigger and better things. Actually, the first concert I ever went to was when my parents took me and my sister to what was then Brendan Byrne Arena at the Meadowlands for a Hall & Oates show. The opening act that night was a yet-to-hit-it-big band by the name of ‘Til Tuesday fronted by Aimee Mann. About a week later I saw their debut album, “Voices Carry” — on cassette — in a local store and bought it. A few weeks later, the album’s title track was all over the radio and on MTV.

So, anyway, I have had a pretty good history with seeing quality opening acts, especially in recent years. I saw Tegan and Sara open for Ben Folds at The College of New Jersey about five years ago and never heard of them before. Now, they seem to be all over the place. Then, I saw The Zutons and The Redwalls open for Keane a few years ago, the soon-to-be-all-over-the-place Nicole Atkins open for Mike Doughty, and the still-up-and-coming Dawn Landes open for Midlake just a few months ago.

And that leads me back to the point of this post: Oppenheimer has joined the list of opening acts I would certainly like to see and hear again…hopefully, as a headliner. They played a really strong set of synth-based, 2-to-3 minute pop songs, and their debut, self-titled album is more of the same.

And this quote from Oppenheimer’s Rocky O’Reilly reminds me of the days when my friend Christian Beach and I use to stand behind our array of synthesizers, samplers, drum machines and sequencers:

I could never imagine Oppenheimer being more than us Oppenheimers. We write and record all our own stuff, the creation is very studio based. It’s the two of us throwing our ideas back and forth at each other and seeing where it takes us. In that way I hope the live show reflects that process, that it is two people creating the sounds. On occasion people are upset that it’s not guitar/bass/drums, but that’s not really what we are about, it’s about pop/electronica and really it’s about having fun!

Here is dark, grainy YouTube video of Oppenheimer performing “This is Not a Test” during a recent CMJ show in New York City…

(photo and quote courtesy of