[ATTENDED: June 16, 2016] Guster
For the third time in 14 months Sarah and I went to a Guster show. This was a show that was originally scheduled for January (which we couldn’t go to), but a freak snowstorm kept them away. So they rescheduled to June and we were free to indulge in one of our favorite live bands.
Guster never fails to put on a supremely fun show. Between favorite songs, unexpected rarities, frontman Ryan Miller’s banter and general sense of good will and each guy’s ability to play just about anything, each show is a blast. This venue was much bigger than the previous two and we were actually a little further back but we managed to get close enough to really enjoy the fun. And the sound was amazing.
The Shelters ended and the stage was set. It always seems to take so long for a band to come out. And just as Sarah said they should be out by now, there they were. They opened with “What You Wish For” a song they hadn’t played to us before–a great start!
Over the three shows we saw in the past 14 months, Guster played 40 different songs (not including two covers and an improv jam) out of 73 songs played.
Even though it’s great to hear unexpected songs in their set, it’s the songs we know that are the most fun, like “Satellite” (one of my favorites) and the always amazing “Barrel of a Gun.”
During “Doin’ It By Myself,” Ryan climbed out into the audience and, what? stood on someone’s shoulders? Here’s a photo. He seemed to almost trip on the way back to the stage (but never stopped singing). When he got back on stage he commented that usually it’s the big dudes that he seeks out for that bit, but he always appreciates the help from the tiny women too.
Guster’s fan base is pretty intense, with people (not unlike ourselves) who have seen them many many times. The fans love the old songs, but also really get into the newer songs. So it’s interesting to see the album breakdown for this show (11 songs from their last two albums, 4 songs each from the two before those, and then one, two and three songs each from the first three albums). How can a band that’s been around for 25 years only have 7 albums out?
Since I like pretty much all of the albums equally, I never know what albums any songs are from. While I know a song like “Ramona” is older I forget that a song like “Never Comin’ Down” is from their last album. It feels like a classic to me because each time they’ve played it they have so much fun with drummer Brian Rosenworcel’s attempts at playing the trombone. Last time he hit the notes pretty well, but this time, as Ryan commented, “was the worst you’ve done in like a year. See, this is the result of all of those medals for participation.”
Then they made Sarah’s night by playing “Architects & Engineers” one of her favorite songs.
They followed that up with a slow moody “Lightning Rod” (a song I’ve never heard them play before) and then the always fun “Come Downstairs and Say Hello.” This is the song that features Rosenworcel’s intense and amazing bongo drum playing–I marvel at this every time. I’ve taken a video of this before, but this time I just sat back and enjoyed watching him smash drums and cymbals with his bare hands. But here’s a video of him hitting all kinds of things.
And then Ryan announced that a horn section would come out [he said the name of the horns, but I missed it] and out came three guys with trumpet, saxophone and trombone. Ryan said that with the horn section it allowed them to pay deep cuts, also known as “the unpopular songs.” And they played three songs with the horns:
“Dear Valentine,” which was a very unexpected song, followed by a super fun version of “That’s No Way to Get to Heaven” and a wonderfully intense version of “Red Oyster Cult” (which I haven’t heard them play since 2004).
When the horns left, Ryan said that Brian observed that the last time they did a two night stint in Philly they played all of their songs but four and they owed it to the city to play those songs. Even though Ryan doesn’t particularly want to play the old songs, because he likes the new ones, they played “Mona Lisa” from their debut, Parachute. That album sounds very different from their others, since it was almost an Indigo Girls type of folk–with great harmonies and folky playing. It was great to hear they could still sing like that (although i like the newer stuff better).
Incidentally, when we saw them 14 months ago, they talked about how they had gotten all of these afghans–the whole stage was decorated with them. While most of the afghans have disappeared, there are still some remnants left–like the side of the organ and Adam Gardner’s afghan-covered guitar. Every show I try to get a good photo of it, and I believe I finally got one
There was a great pair of songs in “Manifest Destiny” and “Simple Machine” (another song I keep forgetting is “new”). And then they played a fantastic “Airport Song.” This is another of my favorites, especially live. For this show it was a little different because during what is usually the very fast middle section with loud guitars, the guitars dropped away leaving just the bongos and a bit of a disco section (keyboards and dance lights). It was really different and a real treat.
Even though I love the big fun singalong songs, it’s always nice when they slow it down for a song like “Kid Dreams.” And of course they ended the main set with “This Could All Be Yours,” one of the most fun songs ever.
So last time during the “encore” they walked off to the side of the stage and pretended to wait a few minutes and then came back. This time Ryan said they were going to do something different. Instead of leaving, they would do an improv song. They would start with drums and bass and then every few seconds, they would switch instruments always keeping the drums and bass going. He said that Brian hates when he plays the drums, so this is the only way he can do it. The first transition when Luke handed off the bass to Adam was amazingly seamless. And even Ryan jumping in Brain’s seat was pretty good. Things kind of fell a part a bit when Brian grabbed the bass. And as you can see from this picture, he wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it.
Ryan made up a really funny lyric about how this was the worst song ever played. And when they were done he said that even if it was terrible it was more fun than just leaving the stage, right?
For the encore they played a song that they seem to love playing–“Long Night” a moody piece with Ryan on xylophone. They followed this up with two songs from the fun album Easy Wonderful including a crowd loving “What You Call Love” (with horns again, which sounded amazing). And then, much to our delight, they played “Fa Fa.”
When Ryan said that that would be their last song and people groaned, he made a big joke about it and started putting his thumbs down and then giving us the finger. Then he said that after they played that final song, when they walked offstage everyone should Boo really loudly and they would go offstage and come back for one more song. So they did and we did. It was pretty weird to boo a band you just enjoyed for 90 minutes, and when they came out (with Ryan giving us the finger again) Luke said “that’s so confusing…imagine being hated that much.”
As a wonderful treat, they played an acoustic (sans microphones) version of “Jesus on the Radio.” which was a major treat and an awesome way to end the night. You bet I would see them again, because Sarah and I need to hear them play “Amsterdam.”
All bold songs are unique during these 14 months:
|What You Wish For
|Satellite||Satellite||Center of Attention|
|Doin’ It By Myself
||Simple Machine||Doin’ It By Myself|
|Barrel of a Gun
||Happier||The Beginning of the End|
|Never Coming Down||Careful/”Chariots of Fire”||Gangway|
|Architects & Engineers||Doin’ It By Myself||Endlessly|
|Lightning Rod||Captain||Stay with Me Jesus|
|Come Downstairs and Say Hello||Kid Dreams||Come Downstairs and Say Hello|
|Do You Love Me||Homecoming King||Do You Love Me|
||Come Downstairs and Say Hello||(Everything I Do) I Do It for You|
|That’s No Way to Get to Heaven
||Do You Love Me||Hang On|
|Red Oyster Cult||Never Coming Down||Lazy Love|
||Demons||Hercules (with Kishi Bashi)|
||Two Points for Honesty||Satellite (with Kishi Bashi)|
|Simple Machine||Happy Frappy||Simple Machine|
||Ruby Falls||Never Coming Down|
||Lazy Love||Two Points for Honesty|
|Demons||Barrel of a Gun||Diane|
|This Could All Be Yours||This Could All Be Yours||Careful|
||“encore” (“Zombie Jews”)||This Could All Be Yours|
|Bad Bad World
||One Man Wrecking Machine||Long Night|
|What You Call Love
||Manifest Destiny||Manifest Destiny|
|Fa Fa||Airport Song||What You Call Love|
|encore “boooo”||Careless Whisper||Happier|
|Jesus on the Radio|
|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|