As a fan of Guster since the late ’90s, I’ve got a special place in my heart for the band. Their album Lost and Gone Forever remains their standout for me even as I have found gems on newer albums, like this year’s Evermotion the group’s first for Nettwerk. So when I they came around New York to perform at Summerstage in Central Park, I figured it would be an enjoyable show. And, despite the heat, it was.
The Monday night performance was one of the hottest evenings yet of the summer. Sweat was abundant as people arrived early to stake out spots near the front or get a seat in the bleachers. For the opening act, Guster lined up local virtuoso Kishi Bashi. Kishi Bashi is the project of one man, Kaoru Ishibashi, but his music sounds like multiple hands are involved in the process given that he loops and layers his violin over and over to create a brilliant variety of atmospheres. I was familiar with him as I caught him a bit at a free show last year following the release of his second album Lighght and was glad to catch more of him. He performed songs like “Bright Whites” and “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” with, the latter with a couple of newer Guster members, as the crowd soaked in his sonics (and the sun’s rays).
After a cool beverage, I took my spot in the photo pit to capture Guster, the original glee club core trio of Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner and Brian Rosenworcel and two newer members Luke Reynolds and David Butler. Kicking off with “I Spy”, Guster instantly filled me with glee. Their friendly pop music and rich harmony between Miller and Gardner invites sing-alongs. Once I had my photos I could do so without care somewhere at the back of the space. “The Captain” was my first chance; I could hear many singing in unison with the boys on stage.
Partway through their set, the band busted out water guns to cool down the audience, a welcome relief. The sun had begun to set as well also bringing down the temperatures. When Miller and co. broke into “Do You Love Me”, the band’s honest lyrics struck a chord with many in the crowd — that song’s quirky “marbles in my mouth” line always reminds me of Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana”. Several songs later, Guster, with Kishi Bashi joining them, performed an awesome cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On, Eileen”, a fantastically catchy song in its own right that this band made their own.
For their finale, the group crushed it with “Satellite” — my favorite post Lost song — and then the older “Demons”, which came as a surprise because it wasn’t the biggest possible ending. But it was a way for the group to embed the audience with an everlasting memory, those shivers down their spines from the beautiful song.
Guster will return to the New York City area on November 21st with a show in Wellmont, NJ and then in Port Chester, NY on the 27th and 28th for three shows. Three show passes (for the latter) and regular tickets are available for these dates and more starting on July 31st. Check the tour dates below.
The Summerstage 30th Anniversary Season is well under way but there are lots of great shows to come. A couple of upcoming events include Dr. John and the Nite Trippers with Amy Helm on August 1st in Central Park, and Rakim at Marcus Garvey Park on August 11th.
Doin’ It By Myself
Barrel of a Gun
Come Downstairs and Say Hello
Do You Love Me
Bad Bad World
Never Coming Down
Come On Eileen (Dexys Midnight Runners)
This Could All Be Yours
Guster Fall 2015 Tour Dates:
11/5 – Providence, RI @ Lupos
11/6 – Northampton, MA @ Calvin Theatre
11/7 – Baltimore, MD @ Ram’s Head Live
11/9 – Richmond, VA @ The National
11/10 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
11/11 – Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre
11/13 – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room
11/14 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater
11/15 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
11/18 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Michigan Theater
11/19 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
11/20 – Ithaca, NY @ State Theater
11/21 – Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theatre
11/27 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre
11/28 – Port Chester, NY @ Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre (Acoustic)
11/28 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre