“Guster is the Bester!” – A Gusterrhoid saying
Very few musicians tend to keep the same lasting talent in their work. In fact, often times when a band shifts their sound to explore, they are met with harsh criticism. Success is therefore difficult to follow. However, there is one band that has withstood the test of time and just keeps getting better over the years. That band is the ever-satisfying Guster. To my enjoyment, they returned to NYC for a special show at the Central Park SummerStage! As luck would have it, I was granted an invite to come and experience their musical wonder yet again.
Simply put, I love Guster’s music. I am not kidding, I have been a fan of theirs since the end of middle school. Dave Matthews Band is the only group that have now tied with Guster in my attendance for concerts. Although, I will admit, I would choose Guster any day, sorry Dave. My last experience with Guster was in 2014 at the Beacon Theater where they played their “Keep It Together” album in its entirety and had a reunion with their old band mate, Joe Pisapia. Their current lineup consists of Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel and Luke Reynolds. Ryan, Adam and Brian make up the original three.
To give you another idea of my dedication to Guster, I will tell you my most hectic journey to see them perform. During the end of senior year at college, my best friend and another buddy drove from Geneva, NY to Buffalo, NY to see them live. On May 2nd, just a week or so shy from graduation, we headed downtown. Arriving The Town Ballroom, we gathered our drinks and prepared ourselves for a mighty show. It was a fantastic spectacle and they killed it, naturally. However, the moment of dread came when I had to drive us all the way back to school while keeping my eyes open from exhaustion. We made it safely and to this day, that show remains one of my favorites.
After a nice blade around the Central Park, that I do every other day in the summer, I took a shower, grabbed some dinner and walked from 96th street down Central Park to the SummerStage. It was one of those wicked hot days where every single person was glistening from sweat. It was impossible not to. The awesome Kishi Bashi opened the show with much success. They sounded amazing that night. People were lingering on blankets on the ground while others comfortably sat on bleachers in the back. Everyone had a glass of wine or beer in his or her hand. I could not spot a frown at all. Despite the heat, the audience were all smiles and enjoying the summer evening with good music. I snagged a beer and went to the center of the crowd near the stage to witness the end of Kishi Bashi’s violin-raged set. It was perfectly fun and relaxing in the SummerStage space. With every gust of wind, people immediately turned towards it and enjoyed the breeze. Right before Guster arrived on the stage, people started folding up their blankets and pushed forward to prepare themselves for the show. I noticed at this point that some people around me were fainting from the heat and dehydration! I hope they were able to stay for the rest of the show as emergency personnel rushed them out of the crowd.
Finally, Guster started making their way onstage! Guster as a whole has a unique sound, which is supported by the multi-instrumental crew of musicians. Each one of the guys are versatile with many various instruments that make their music broad and fun. Their music is poppy, with a rock and roll vibe that is addicting. Each song has a hook that finds its way into the listener’s ear and stays there. Songs range from soft and somber to quick and ostentatious. From Ryan’s clear and powerful voice, to Adam’s and Luke’s wicked guitar licks and all the way to Brian’s special bongo percussion, no other music is like theirs. Poor Brian, that man endures so much with his arrangement of bongos, congas, djembe, hand snares and cymbals in pairing with using a traditional drum set. However, he masters it beautifully. Also, Brian was kind enough to shoot water from various water guns all over us throughout the night, which felt great.
As they walked on, the entire audience began cheering deafeningly and cheerfully! With waves to the crowd and smiles on their faces, the gentlemen got right into it. Some of the instruments, amplifiers and microphone stands had colorful yarn designs wrapped about them. That was a new thing for the crew. Guster played tons of their masterpieces; Happier, Careful, Barrel of a Gun and many more from their recent albums ‘Easy Wonderful’ and ‘Ganging Up On The Sun.’ Guster are so in tune with their old stuff, there were times when I noticed Ryan looking to the sky, almost bored as they pleased us all with the Guster classics. My new favorite as of a few years ago has been This Could All Be Yours, which is such a perfect song. It is a fast passed tune with amazingly hopeful lyrics. I use it for exercising and for gaining inspiration when working on an art project. I love the collective harmonies and beats for this song as the theme of a following your dreams is unveiled. Plus, they perform it even better live; the energy from the crowd fuels the message and passion within.
Now, the fun really started with the introduction of their new stuff, which has the same Guster flair but a new style or performance. Their new album, ‘Evermotion’ unleashes a new version of the poppy rock that Guster usually propels. As a whole, ‘Evermotion’ has a feel of a typical indie rock band today. In fact, that was revealed even more once I noticed that most of the songs from this album were performed with Ryan singing the lead without an instrument. I love the new songs and enjoyed watching Ryan wander and jump around the stage with his hands in the air, beckoning us to enjoy the wonder of it all. He seemed more free and in his own element. Once the moon peeked out from the clouds, the hand motions became even more elaborate.
As the night came to a close, Brian and Adam had a moment of dueling horns! It was Adam’s trumpet versus Brian’s trombone! Everyone was laughing at the point. Kishi Bashi joined the band for various songs including a rendition of Come On Eileen that had the whole audience singing along! After they completed their usual fake encore, they returned and had a fan take a photo of the crowd. Everyone cheered and tried to get in on that. With a made up song thrown in they conclusively ended the great night with Satellite and Demons. Damn Guster, you always manage to do it right. Well-done sirs.
Jam On Gusterrhoids.