Tag Archives: Guster

Paramount – A Good Word to Describe Guster

18 Apr

Guster performs March 28, 2012, at The Egg. (Michael Janairo / Times Union

Ryan Miller of Guster introduced the concert at the Paramount in Huntington, Long Island, yesterday as an acoustical/comedy combination and he laid out the ground rules. They would play a set, take requests in the middle (but if you shouted out a song they would not play it), and then finish off; all while comedian Jeff Garlin would come on and off stage (and maybe even play a song with the band – because of prior curiosity I knew he would be doing a Neil Diamond cover). As Guster put it, they are modern music men. The interactive, crowd-friendly concert was proof of this sentiment. While mainstays Miller, Adam Gardner, and Brian Rosenworcel are pushing 40, they still relate exceptionally well with a young crowd, earning them the title of the “Ageless College Band” – but, come on, any Guster fan can tell you that in the band’s years of performing they have certainly superseded the “college” title in pure musical talent.

Like billed, the concert was truly a comedy/acoustic combination. Jeff Garlin was the emcee and his scriptless blend of comedy carried the beginning of the show (which also featured a comedian that he brought along with him from California named Matt Edgar). Garlin, who most now know from Curb Your Enthusiasm, is hilarious. While the crowd became restless (it took a while before Guster came on stage), I enjoyed his brash style of “I don’t give a crap” comedy and I thought he pulled off a funny set.

Guster came out with a two-person string accompaniment and knocked through “Backyard” and new hit “Do You Love Me” with normal Guster proficiency. I immediately was struck by the smoothness of the strings. Guster has sampled strings in their music before so the orchestral addition in the concert was not shocking. Guster’s unique blend of alt/pop with acoustic proclivity is set up well for strings (or other unique instrumentation).

The first set flew by. The band was producing tremendous sound from some sweet-sounding acoustic guitars, bass, keys, and Rosenworcel’s classic eccentric drum set. Then, as the crowd seem to be getting settled in, Jeff Garlin glided out on the stage (prompting a Ryan Miller-led improv and odd Garlin dance) and introduced the request portion of the show. On the piano laid a fish bowl and concertgoers were given the opportunity to write requests, questions, or covers, and give their scraps of paper to Jeff who would pick out pieces and tell the band the song to play. This, of course, led to some pretty funny interactions. A girl tried to bribe the band to play “Mona Lisa” with dollar bills. They declined (but took the money!) Someone asked “Who is the roughest lover,” and the band concluded it was relative newcomer Luke Reynolds.

Songs were also played. Excellent songs. “Airport Song,” “Amsterdam,” and “Demons” within a span of 15 minutes. The crowd buzzed and sang along (as well as throwing ceremonial ping pong balls at the band after “Airport Song”).

The second set brought my favorite Guster song, “Either Way” followed by another gem “Satellite.” Here is a version of “Either Way” from earlier in the tour.

The beginning is similar to the type of off-the-cuff humor that we experienced last night. You know what I loved about it. It was just so real. You almost felt that you were back in Tufts seeing Guster in their incipient stages. The venue was intimate but the humor reminded me of inside jokes I used to have with my band. The interaction was fresh and humorous. I believe everyone felt like they belonged and that is something Guster does so well at their shows.

“Either Way” is subtle. It is carried by excellent harmony blending with a strong acoustic melody. I love the note Miller hangs when he holds out way. The strings just add to the calmness of this piece. But, don’t be fooled, the song, while soft, is tinged with emotion and passion.

I want to also provide you with a video of “This Could All Be Yours” which was played at the end of the concert last night. This song, off of the newest release, is very poppy but, hey, I like it.

I said it last time I saw Guster in Ithaca and I will say it again. Some bands do not enjoy themselves when they are performing. Guster does. You can tell they genuinely enjoy what they do and appreciate fans for listening to them. The concert was positively affected by this happiness and it was a joy seeing them for the third time – makes me want to keep coming back.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Jeff Garlin performed a William Shatner-like rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man.” Here is him performing it in Milwaukee on April 7.

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Lyric of the Day: “Dancing Partner” by Joe Pisaspia

7 Dec

We embark on a journey back in time. A sojourn in the bright-eyed days of 2009. Oh, the nostalgia is killing me. The Music Court has not clicked the category option of lyric of the day for way too long. And, this in unacceptable. Every category should get love. So, for today’s post, we concentrate on a lyric that can set your night right. And, we rhyme. Because, that’s what we do here. Rhymes and old times with musical chimes. Shut up and get to the song. Okay!

Joe Pisapia is often referred to as “that balding guy from Guster,” but he is certainly much more than that. This multi-instrumentalist is a talented singer-songwriter that has been an essential part of Guster since he jumped on-board 7 years ago. Recently, after completing Guster’s new album Easy Wonderful, he left the band to explore a project with musician, k.d. lang.

A solo release in 2002 by Pisapia is often looked over by fans of Guster. But, if you want a good listen and you are a fan of Guster, definitely check out Pisapia’s work on Daydreams.

Here is my favorite lyric from my favorite song, “Dancing Partner”

To set the scene, Pisapia’s character goes to visit his grandmother (I think) in a nursing home and they discuss how it has been 27 years ago since her husband passed away and how she refuses to dance with anyone now because her dancing partner is away.

It is a sad song. Pisapia’s smooth, innocent voice is a perfect compliment to the piano rhythm that is jumpy and bubbly. But, as the song hits the chorus the piano draws out and we are left with extended vocal and piano notes that help the song. Here is the lyric

“Driving home so late that night
My mind still recollecting
All the many things we talked about
Like living with and then without

I wondered to myself if I would
Ever love someone that way
And in the echoes of that night
I still can see her as she’s saying,

When they play that music
I turn the other way
Since my dancing partner’s away”

That last segment is repeated throughout the song and it just works so well. I like the story above everything. It is personal and allows the listener to explore one single scene/conversation of dealing with loss. Just well done.

Guster Concert Review: Monday, Oct. 25 at Ithaca’s State Theater

26 Oct

Some bands just know how to have a good time on stage. They smile and laugh as they play their songs with passion and ease. They interact with the crowd, but, not excessively. “That would make listeners feel uncomfortable,” said my girlfriend Rebecca, who accompanied me to the show last night. Oh, and lest we not forget, some bands are composed of fantastic musicians who create compositions that can brighten a crowd and keep them in a state of euphoric joint singing for a solid two hours.

Last night, I went up to Ithaca and saw one of those bands. And, if there was one pervasive comment that was shared among those who attended the concert, it was most certainly one consistent with the conversation I had with my brother and his friends driving back to my brother’s Cornell dormitory after the show. Guster is awesome!

The State Theater is an intimate venue that served originally as a movie palace. Gothic and Renaissance architecture inspires the lavish interior adorned with medieval crests and a ceiling of constellations. It is somewhat dreamy, mystical even. It also provides solid acoustics. It was my first time at this venue. Our group ended up sitting in the balcony. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The stage is spacious and the members of Guster took advantage of the room, moving around freely while they played their hits.

The perennial college band that is Guster plays music that infuses a mix of fast-paced folk/pop with some unconventional inspirations, including a bongo set manned by the awesomely talented “Thundergod” Brian Rosenworcel. Guster can just as easily hit you with a wall of sound and make you want to get out of your seat and hop around, than it can sit you down with a slow bridge or song opening. The harmonies that Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller employ are fantastic. Here is the best way I can describe Guster. In any college you will run into several bands trying to do what Guster has done. But, creative, diverse, harmony-focused music is not as easy as Guster makes it seem on stage. So, these bands fizzle out and the lead singer/songwriter becomes a worried graduating senior (wait, are we still talking about Guster). Anyway, Guster never vanished. They are the constant in a countless field of evanescent college bands. Guster, though, has certainly transcended college. Most of their original fan base has probably settled down with kids. Guster certainly still attracts mostly college listeners, but, people do grow up and continue listening to music. Since they started in the early 90’s, the members of Guster have matured musically and this was evident yesterday night.

Picture I took at the Guster Concert Last Night.

How about we get to the concert. First, the opening act was awesome. I will be doing a profile on them in the upcoming future…so, as to not spoil it, I will not be talking about the opening act.

Guster opened up with the lyrics, “woke up today.” Crafty, Guster. “What You Wish For,” the classic Guster hit was followed by track four on the newly released album Easy Wonderful. “This Could All Be Yours,” is possibly the best song on the new album. Here, listen to it below.

The song is like new classic Guster. The bongos come back and we get harmony and elongated stretches of melodic noise. The lyrics are upbeat and the message is perfect. Keep making music like this Guster. The song is clean and mature. But, the rhythm is Guster of 8-10 years ago. It just works.

The concert continued with a few Guster favorites with a song off their new album mixed in. The crowds reaction when the opening chord and keyboard riff for “Satellite” was struck was just awesome. You could tell Ryan was having an awesome time (even though he and Adam were struck with a virus that they stated would hamper their performance, asking for crowd help singing on many songs. A clever ploy to get people singing your songs, I see. Seriously though, by the end of the show they looked exhausted. Well, Ryan did jump into the crowd during the encore. Well, I am getting ahead of myself aren’t I).

Perhaps the best one-two punch came next with songs eight and nine. “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” was welcomed by the arrival of Ryan’s instrument being slowly let down from the heavens. Seriously, it was lowered from the scaffolding. Anyway, it was perhaps Guster’s best song of the night. The slow beginning erupts into a fast-paced, energetic piece. Here is a great version:

The song was followed by “One Man Wrecking Machine,” the chorus of which is fantastically catchy. It was aided by the entire theater singing it right back at the band. I was impressed with how many people in the audience knew every word of every song. The rest of the set included a variety of old and new material. Guster did play “Demons” and “Barrel of a Gun,” easily the two biggest fan favorites of the show.

I was most impressed by the performance of “Either Way,” which Ryan prefaced with a choice. “I’m going to give you a choice on the next song, but I already know what you are going to pick,” he said. It was between the popular “Either Way” and “Ruby Falls,” good song, not as good as “Either Way.” The latter would have probably been easier on his strained vocal chords, affected by his virus, but, the crowd picked “Either Way” and Ryan sang the song excellently, holding out the falsetto with ease.

Yes, the concert ended with an encore where Ryan crowd surfed. This came during an impromptu performance of “Sweet Caroline” which was odd but well received. It was more like a collapse into the crowd. I don’t even think the band, fans, nor security guards even knew it was coming. Sitting in the balcony gave me a great look at surprised faces. Guster ended their 22-song set with a performance of “Manifest Destiny” (wrapping up every song Rebecca wanted to hear) and a rousing “Airport Song.”

Excellent show. They play their hearts out every time they go on stage and fans really do appreciate it. It’s exciting to see a band like Guster. Rarely do you experience a great band that is having just as much fun as the crowd is having. That is the charm of Guster.

Guster Tomorrow

24 Oct

Guess who is going to see Guster tomorrow. Yeah, this guy! My girlfriend and I will be making the hour trip to Ithaca where we will be meeting my brother (who goes to Cornell), eating some dinner and then going to see the show.

Guster’s tour is in celebration of their new album Easy Wonderful which stays true to the melodic, indie sound that made them famous all those years ago. Yes, the perennial college band that is Guster has aged, but, like fine wine, has just become better, and presumably more expensive. I don’t even know what I mean by that.

Anyway, this is going to be good. And, in my anticipation, here is Guster performing an acoustic version of “Demons” in Providence.

The Music Court’s Fall Concert Schedule

30 Sep

Come see the Music Court on tour? No, not really. Sorry for getting your hopes up. But, I have finally finalized my own concert attendance schedule and that is pretty exciting. You may have received bits and pieces of this information over the past few weeks, but, now that it is officially down, I am going to list it below. This Fall I am getting back into my concert mood and seeing three exciting shows. First up, the quintessential college band.

Show: Guster

Date: Monday, Oct. 25

Location: Ithaca, NY

Celebrating?: Release of new album Easy Wonderful

Preview: I saw Guster in concert at the Beacon theater when I was a senior in high school. I am now a senior in college now, but I am still as excited as I was back then to see Guster now. Easy Wonderful will be released in a few days and the songs I have heard from the album all seem to be right up Guster’s musical alleyway. I expect a nice mix between old and new material. Plus, I am going with my girlfriend and my brother (both have never seen Guster before) so it will be awesome seeing how they react to the performance. Guster is excellent live. Excellent! This will be fun.


Show: The Weepies

Date: Friday, Nov. 5

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Celebrating?: The recent release of their new album Be My Thrill

Preview: Unlike the Guster concert, I am really not sure what to expect from the Weepies. I believe I will experience an intimate show where they run through a lot of their well-known old stuff. I presume I will hear the new album as well, but, since the Weepies do not tour frequently, I am looking to hear Weepies’ oldies. They better play “World Spins Madly On.”

Show: Bob Dylan

Date: Nov. 17

Location: Binghamton, NY

Celebrating: It’s Bob Dylan

Preview: And then comes Mr. Dylan. I saw him at Nassau Coliseum back when I was in High School and I expect to see a completely different show. That is one thing awesome about the tambourine man…he always changes up his songs. The man is on a tremendous streak of an insane amount of performances over the past 2o or so years and 2010 is no difference. I mean he is coming to Binghamton…again. That says it all. Can’t wait to see you, Bob.

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