[ATTENDED: November 21, 2015] Guster
We saw Guster just seven months ago in Philly. And when I saw that they were playing again in New jersey (to a theater I’d never been to but at which a ton of great bands have played), I bought us some tickets.
It’s funny how many times we have seen them, and I’ve never considered them a favorite band or anything. But I like all of their albums, I really like most of their songs, they put on a great show, they usually play cheap venues, and they are a whole lotta fun. And yup, I’d see them again if they came back. Maybe they are my favorite band.
What was especially great is that they played a very different set list from the show we saw just a few months ago. Even though it may have technically been the same tour–it’s a little unclear, but it sounded like this may have been a three week jaunt. But the stage had the same look as the last time–complete with blankets and other crocheted items strewn about the stage.
While there was some overlap in songs (15 songs, which was fine as they were great) they played ten songs that they didn’t play last time. Which is pretty awesome.
It was notable right at the start because last time they opened with a bunch of songs sung by Ryan Miller. But this time, the first few songs were sung by Adam. They opened with the mellow “Ramona” but then quickly jumped into the great single “Satellite”
Guster also release new albums which are every bit as good as their previous ones. Their sound hasn’t changed dramatically over the years (the addition of synths on the later albums is certainly notable). So when they play a new song like “Simple Machine” I can never remember if it’s a new one or an old one, it’s just really good. They are a lot less synthy live than on the record.
Speaking of changes, like the last show, they have added a fourth member (he’s been with them for a while), Luke Reynolds. He plays just about everything–bass, guitar, banjo, synth. And he was having a blast. He’s a great addition, and he allows the other two guys a little more freedom since he plays the solos, too.
I’m pretty sure that it was after “Happier” that they played a few bard of Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire.” And then after playing “Careful” Ryan said “I smell pot. That was the least likely Guster song to get high to.” There was a little girl in the front of the stage. And Ryan talked to her parents a bit. Later in the show he invited them on stage to get away from the pot. It was very sweet.
They played a few songs which they didn’t last time, the final one “Homecoming King” is one of my favorites of theirs. For “Come Downstairs and Say Hello,” Ryan started the song on ukulele (I took a shockingly blurry photo of this) before the band kicked in and rocked away. This song has some of the best drumming to watch. Brian Rosenworcel mostly plays bongoes–he doesn’t use sticks. And there’s a great instrumental break where the band really lets him shine–he pounds the heck out of them (including the cymbals). It’s pretty awesome, and I finally got a decent video of it. Part 1 and Part 2.
After a crowd pleasing “Do You Love Me,” they played “Never Coming Down.” For this they did the same thing as last show–which was awesome. Adam plays a decent trumpet in this song and then Rosenworcel plays a, well, sub-par trombone. It’s very funny. You can watch a short video as well–notice that he crashes the cymbal at the end.
After “Demons” Ryan revealed that it was his birthday. The crew brought out a cake and put a hat on him. He sang a few songs with the hat on. And for his birthday, the band suggested that he let the audience pick which of his two least favorite Guster songs they should play. He was quick to point out that the songs aren’t bad, just that he’s an asshole.
The choices were “Two Points for Honesty” and “Happy Frappy” from their first album. Two Points barely won out. And after playing a great version of it, he conceded that that was fun and maybe he likes the song a little more. Then he said that they should also play “Happy Frappy.” Adam said he forgot the words, but after some coaxing, they began. And Ryan nodded or shook his head as Adam got them right or wrong. Afterwards, he apologized for making them play it.
A highlight for us came a few songs later when they played “Barrel of a Gun,” one of Sarah and my favorite Guster songs. They didn’t play it last time, so it was especially sweet to hear it this time–and to see the audience throw ping pong balls on the stage (you’ll have to look that one up). They ended the main set with “This Could All Be Yours” an amazing sing along if ever there was one.
Like last time, Ryan said that rather than leave the stage for the encore, they would just sort of hang around. Although last time, they went over to the side of the stage, this time they would lie down on the floor and rest and after fifteen seconds they would rise like zombie jews. They them improvised a jam to a “new song” called “Zombie Jews.” Once they arose from the encore, he resumed the song which you can see here.
During the encore, they played two more of my favorites that they didn’t last time–“One Man Wrecking Machine” and “Airport Song.” And then they ended the show in a most unexpected way. Rosenworcel came down and “sang” George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” I don’t know if he can really sing or not, but he has so much fun doing these songs (last time it was a Bryan Adams song) in a over the top bad voice. The band played it sincerely (with Adam getting his guitar solo to sound like saxophone solo) and then there’s Brian’s hilarious singing (and complete inability to remember the lyrics).
It was a weird song to end with, but it might have been hard to top.
I read that the guys often sign things for fans after the show, but once again, we didn’t stick around to find out–I need venues that aren’t an hour from my house!
One reason that I know that Guster isn’t my favorite band is because of the fans that have surrounded us at the last two shows. In this show, the guy next to me knew every word, every drumbeat and every dance move. He was really really into it (a little annoyingly so, frankly). But that’s a huge fan. I still don’t know all the words to even my favorite Guster songs. But I love hearing them. And I’ll certainly see them again.
|Satellite||Center of Attention|
|Simple Machine||Doin’ It By Myself|
|Happier||The Beginning of the End|
|Careful/”Chariots of Fire”||Gangway|
|Doin’ It By Myself||Endlessly|
|Captain||Stay with Me Jesus|
|Kid Dreams||Come Downstairs and Say Hello|
|Homecoming King||Do You Love Me|
|Come Downstairs and Say Hello||(Everything I Do) I Do It for You|
|Do You Love Me||Hang On|
|Never Coming Down||Lazy Love|
|Demons||Hercules (with Kishi Bashi)|
|Two Points for Honesty||Satellite (with Kishi Bashi)|
|Happy Frappy||Simple Machine|
|Ruby Falls||Never Coming Down|
|Lazy Love||Two Points for Honesty|
|Barrel of a Gun||Diane|
|This Could All Be Yours||Careful|
|“encore” (“Zombie Jews”)||This Could All Be Yours|
|One Man Wrecking Machine||Long Night|
|Manifest Destiny||Manifest Destiny|
|Airport Song||What You Call Love|
|Architects & Engineers||I Spy|
|Homecoming King||Airport Song|
|Come Downstairs and Say Hello||Demons|
|Do You Love Me||Amsterdam|
|Airport Song||Come Downstairs and Say Hello|
|Hang On||Barrel of a Gun|
|Satellite||Red Oyster Cult|
|Barrel of a Gun (with Ed Robertson)||California Dreamin’|
|This Could All Be Yours Someday||Fa Fa|
|Jam (with Ben Folds)|
|Backyard (with Ben Folds)|
|All the Way Up to Heaven|