A couple years ago, I conducted a phone interview with John Oates which featured the following exchange:

Seely: Why'd you shave off that fabulous moustache,

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Oatesmeal

When your onstage soulmate is such a queen, you've got to be bland.

A couple years ago, I conducted a phone interview with John Oates which featured the following exchange:

Seely: Why'd you shave off that fabulous moustache, and have you caught shit from your fans in the law-enforcement community for doing so?

Oates: I shaved the moustache because I am no longer the guy who had the moustache.

Seely: Who was that guy, then?

Oates: He was a guy playing rock star and not paying attention to more important things, like real life. In terms of law enforcement, I'm too short to be a cop.

Last night, the guy who used to have the moustache took the stage alongside Daryl Hall in front of a very enthusiastic McCaw Hall crowd. Had you told me at the time I conducted that interview that Hall & Oates would play two encores before a nearly-full concert hall, I'd have bet my life savings against you. But now that it's again become culturallly acceptable to dig the Philly duo's unique brand of Caucasian-soul-meets-synth-pop-meets-ass-rock (some prefer to refer to this multi-dimensional package as yacht rock, I call it versatility), there H&O were, throwing used guitar picks to screaming middle-aged female fans, never out of touch, never out of time if the crowd screamed for one more ditty.

While what looks to be a few too many Botox injections has frozen his pretty face, and he can't pull off all the vocal acrobatics he once could live, the tall, skinny Hall still has a gorgeous head of hair, moves like a white James Brown, and croons like a white Usher. It's hard to imagine Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake being possible without him. He is the center of attention to the point where you wonder why the band isn't simply called "Hall."

Now stop to consider Oates. Hall threw him a scrap of meat early by letting him sing lead on one tune, but other than that, Oates was in the background, vocally and instrumentally. One could argue that he is, at best, the fourth most important member of Hall & Oates, as his rhythm guitar is constantly outshined by the duo's Neil Young-disciple lead guitarist and a flamboyant, silver-maned sax man whom Hall introduced as "Mr. Casual."

Throughout the performance, 'Lil Oates seemed content to focus on his frets, to chip in with precise backing vocals, and to show as little emotion as possible onstage. He is, in this capacity, the anti-Hall, which, if you stop to think about it, could be exactly why he's so essential to the duo's success. If Hall were allowed to indulge his every diva-like theatrical impulse throughout the course of any given show unchecked, it might send things over the top. The only counterbalance balance for such a queen is the epitome of bland: Oatesmeal.

 
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