[ATTENDED: April 24, 2015] Guster
I’ve seen Guster a few times as openers (Tori Amos, Ben Folds, Barenaked Ladies) but never as the headliner. And it was amazing how different the band was for this show–in which the crowd was totally there for them.
Singer Ryan Miller commented on how they haven’t played the Theatre of Living Arts in a long time–and that the fans were with them on the way up and now again on their way down (it’s unclear if he was serious or not). The band’s “stage design” for this tour was afghans. As you can see in the pictures, the band has afghans draped all over everything. Ryan said that the band’s fans supplied them with all of the afghans. They decided to totally embrace the theme and even put an afghan on one of co-singer Adam Gardner’s guitar. I did not get a good photo of it, but there’s a great photo on Instagram of it.
Midway through the show the band mentioned that they’d been together for 24 years. Which is pretty impressive. The three main guys (Ryan, Adam and “Thundergod” Brian Rosenworcel on bongoes and other drums (most of which he plays with no sticks–seriously, he smashes drums and cymbals with his hands–ouch)) are sill there. For touring they’ve added an instrumentalist Luke Reynolds and a friend of the band on drums and percussion for some songs.
And what a show they played. I had been grousing to myself about the noisy talking crowd during Kishi Bashi and how it’s not always easy for an (apparently) short person like myself to see at shows like this where every fan is over six-foot tall. But being at this show with die-hard fans and a band that totally responded to it was great.
The band was casual and funny. (They are funny during the bigger shows, but not quite as funny). And they played a few deeper cuts (and, shockingly, fewer of their big hits!). But they sounded great and really responded to the crowd singing along (which we did). They played 7 songs from their new album (which, you know, the fans weren’t exactly hoping for, but which I thought sounded great).
They opened with two older fan favorites: “Demons” (going all the way back to Goldfly) and “Center of Attention” a big sing along–one of three songs from Lost and Gone Forever. They nicely mixed up which albums to choose from, playing a brand new song and then jumping back to Ganging Up on the Sun–in which Adam totally shredded on his guitar (and Ryan jokes that he wants to see him shred on the afghan covered guitar).
After playing a few more new songs, the crowd got to sing along to “Stay with Me Jesus” (one of five songs from Easy Wonderful, Sarah’s favorite album). We also all sang along to “Do You Love Me” (I can’t believe he can hit those high notes live).
At the half way point of the show, Ryan grabbed an email that was sent to them and started to read it. And here’s where I knew that a) it was awesome seeing a band with a big fan base at a small venue and b) that Guster are the coolest band ever. He read the email which was from a girl in high school. She said that she and her boyfriend (who was a freshman in college) were seeing each other for the first time in months at this show tonight. She had a big question to ask him and wanted to do it at the show. (I was terrified she was going to propose, but no, she just wanted to ask him to prom).
So they dragged the two of them on stage. And here’s where Guster rules. They “made” her a prom dress from one of the afghans (and put it on her). They “made” him a boutonniere and shorts from the afghan and then they played them a prom song–Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do.” They played it just fine, except that they had Brian song the song. Brian doesn’t normally sing and now we know why–he was hilariously over the top. And then he gave her flowers. It was hilarious and sweet and they have the best prom story ever. There were lots of photos and even a video on Instagram (#guster), but I can’t find them now.
Later, the band played a song (“Hang On” I think) which had a trumpet solo (by Adam). And after the trumpet solo, Brian pulled a trombone out from behind his kit and played a terrible trombone solo. But when he got the last note precisely on key, he was ecstatic–he even hit his cymbal with the trombone in celebration. Ryan joked that he got every note wrong except the last one.
And then Ryan (who had been sitting at the keyboards–these guys exchanged instruments so much: with Ryan playing guitar. ukulele, bass keyboards and xylophone, and Adam playing guitar and bass and trumpet (and keyboards, I believe), anyway, Ryan shouted KishiBAHshi! And Kishi came out to play on two songs–“Hercules” and “Satellite.” “Satellite” is one of my favorite songs, and to hear Kishi doing the riff on the violin was great. He also played a wailing solo at the end (and manipulated his pedals in some way, although I couldn’t see what he was doing). There’s a cool video of it on Instagram.
When that song was over, Ryan said that Kishi wanted to crowd surf using one of their disposable cameras. And he did–right over us, so I got to surf Kishi for a brief moment. It was very cool–and again, something that’s not happening at a bigger concert. After a few more songs they dug very deep and played a song that Ryan said they did one other time on this tour but it was terrible then. So guys, this time “try” to get it right. They played “Two Points for Honesty” which was great to hear.
They ended the set with Sarah’s favorite song “This Could All Be Yours.” The crowd was totally into it and sang along–I honestly don’t understand why this song hasn’t been used in a movie–Hollywood, give a listen to this song, would you–it’s a perfect feel good movie ender. Give Guster some extra money! They deserve it.
When announcing that this was the last song, Ryan said that they would be coming out for an encore, but rather than going back stage and waiting a few moments, they would just stand 3/4 of the way off the stage and wait a few second. Which they did. They feigned boredom and looking their watches) see photo left) and then raised their hands and ran back on stage (see photo right).
The encore was simultaneous fun and disappointing. The girl next to me (who I was annoyed with because she talked a lot through songs she didn’t like, but was also a huge fan and knew the songs that she liked very well) said she was annoyed that the opened the encore with the lead song from the new album. It was a bit of a strange choice, but the final three songs, “Maniftest Destny,” “What You Call Love,”and “Happier” were great show enders–“Happier” in particular in since because both singers sing and the crowd loves singing along to the “son of a bitch” line.
I have to admit I was shocked that they did not play “Fa Fa” or “Airport Song” (a great one for Thundergod), or “Homecoming King,” or “Amsterdam” or “Barrel of a Gun.” The fact that Guster played an awesome show that I loved and yet there are at least five songs that I am surprised they didn’t play shows just how much I like these guys (and how many good songs they have).
Our show sold out and they added another show the next night at Union Transfer. I see that they did a double encore at that show (which, hmmph). But I can’t find a set list (come on Guster fans, what’s up with that). I assume they played a bunch of different songs (since they knew people would be at both shows). Maybe I don’t want to know if I got the better setlist.
Regardless, it was an amazing show. I noticed that I keep saying that each new show that I see is amazing. I like to think that I’m just getting really good at picking great shows. I’m glad that we went to this one, and I’m glad to know I’m not too old to stand for three hours at a show (although getting home at 1:30 was a kick in the pants!).
Here’s the setlist comparison. And how cool it was to find the setlist from the show in 2004!
|Center of Attention||Architects & Engineers||I Spy|
|Doin’ It By Myself||Homecoming King||Airport Song|
|The Beginning of the End||Come Downstairs and Say Hello||Demons|
|Ramona||Do You Love Me||Amsterdam|
|Gangway||Airport Song||Come Downstairs and Say Hello|
|Endlessly||Hang On||Barrel of a Gun|
|Stay with Me Jesus||Demons||Mona Lisa|
|Come Downstairs and Say Hello||Satellite||Red Oyster Cult|
|Do You Love Me||Barrel of a Gun (with Ed Robertson)||California Dreamin’|
|(Everything I Do) I Do It for You||This Could All Be Yours Someday||Fa Fa|
|Hang On||Jam (with Ben Folds)|
|Lazy Love||Backyard (with Ben Folds)|
|Hercules (with Kishi Bashi)||All the Way Up to Heaven|
|Satellite (with Kishi Bashi)|
|Never Coming Down|
|Two Points for Honesty|
|This Could All Be Yours|
|What You Call Love|