February 23, 2016 Guster Delight Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 2-9-16 w/ Vetiver
Maintaining a close relationship with fans has been at the heart and soul of Boston, Massachusetts Alternative Rock band Guster since their early years together. Staying after shows to sign autographs, and recently tweeting their ‘top-secret’ plan on playing a short set in front of a dumpster at the corner of Sampsonia Way and Veto Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Guster truly are one of a kind. Together now for twenty-five years, the band has attained their share of mainstream success, which most notably began with their third studio album, Lost and Gone Forever, back in 1999. Garnering an Adult Top 40 hit single, Guster has since went on to release four more studio records, including their extremely well-received 2015 effort, Evermotion. Evermotion, an album noted on the band’s website as, “an album of raw acid-soaked chamber Pop, and a stylistic departure that no one saw coming,” has certainly given this aura about itself that it is unfiltered, yet still captures the essence of who Guster is. Continuing to support the record, the band partook in a Winter Tour that included support from Vetiver, which found them traveling from coast to coast over the course of twenty dates. In the final week of the aforementioned Winter Tour, Guster, along with Vetiver, made a stop in Tempe, Arizona to perform at the Marquee Theatre Tuesday, February 9th. A venue Guster has been visiting now for well over a decade, despite it being a Tuesday, their latest trip to Marquee Theatre was filled with enthusiastic long-time fans ready for a fun night of music.
Getting the show on the road, American Folk act Vetiver were up first for this two band bill. Out of San Francisco, California, the band formed in 2002 and is led by Singer-Songwriter Adam Cabic. Releasing their debut self-titled album in 2004, Vetiver has since went on to put out five more full-length albums, including 2015’s Complete Strangers. With the longest extension in between album releases, Complete Strangers comes four years after The Errant Charm, and the new material brings out the personality of Mr. Cabic, who appears to be maturing musically. While the band has had a series of lineup changes through the years, the lineup that joined Cabic for this show included Bassist Nick Aives, Guitarist Jeremy Harris, and Drummer Richard Gowen.
Walking on in a relaxed manner, Cabic and company would go on to perform a chilled set of sounds that made for an appetizing prelude of dude Rock, twisted with a touch of Folk melodies. Their set of approximately forty-five minutes brought forth tracks from their back catalogue, but mainly focused on Complete Strangers. Tunes like “Current Carry” and “Last Hurrah” were some of the offerings which really connected with the audience. Their performance was mellow and the songs were certainly delivered in an appropriate manner in the live setting. In addition to the music, this would be their final show with Guster before heading back to California, so those who wanted merchandise had to get it quick. Those looking for well-written and thoughtful music, check out Vetiver.
It was not but about twenty minutes later that Guster arrived on stage to a roar of cheers from the audience. With Ryan Miller (vocals, guitar), Adam Miller (vocals, guitar), Brian Rosenworcel (percussion, drums), and Luke Reynolds (backing vocals, bass), the band took their place, ready to capture the evening with a twenty-four song set planned for the crowd at Marquee Theatre. There were smiles of warmth emanating from both the audience and the band on stage as crocheted afghans of granny square regalia were draped over several bits of equipment. Excited for the performance, the unified crowd was ready to let those good times roll with Guster’s free-spirit brand of music.
Opening their set with “What You Wish For,” the serenade affair began and everyone was delighted from the start. Keeping spirits high, the band went into fan-favorite “Satellite,” followed by 2010’s “Hercules,” both to equally positive reactions. When the time came for their current hit, “Doin’ It By Myself,” Ryan climbed down off the stage, up on the barrier railing between the pit space, to the elation of Guster fans. As he stood there precariously on the railing singing, everyone was on their feet cheering, singing along, and dancing along with the band. Ryan, one of the original founding members, certainly has a charismatic charm over those he comes in contact with. With his smile and warm personality, matched with his command over multiple instruments, he, along with his bandmates, make for an extremely inviting environment during their shows.
Keeping the performance interesting, they would go into more adored tracks such as older singles “Amsterdam,” “Homecoming King,” and “Do You Love Me?” In between that, they also gave a nice dose of other back tracks such as “All the Way Up to Heaven,” a cover of the classic “Chariots of Fire” theme, as well as “Come Downstairs and Say Hello.” Of course the evening would not have been complete if Guster did not play 1998’s “Airport Song,” a hit which the audience responded in jubilant glee by throwing ping-pong balls onto the stage. Enjoying the reaction, the band still had plenty more up their sleeves as they rattled out “Ramona,” “Barrel of a Gun,” and set closer “This Could All Be Yours.”
Already a full and exciting set, the crowd was not ready to let them go and Guster obliged by coming out to complete the night with an encore of “Long Night,” “One Many Wrecking Machine,” and “Happier.” Seeming as if they had said their final goodbye to Tempe, yet another surprise came as the band returned once more. Approaching the front of the stage, curiosity ran wild from the room, wondering what could be next. That was quickly answered as Guster proceeded to hold a acoustic sing-along of “Jesus On The Radio” with their fans. It was a perfect way to end a perfect night and leave their fans completely satisfied.
With seven studio albums to their name, Guster never lacked any material to pull from and they did a fine job of weaving in and out of new and older tracks. They created a mood that mixed their trademark hooks, undeniable melodies, and a soul of integrated feel-good Indie Folk sounds. Unquestionably, with each and every musical note performed, their music blanketed Marquee Theatre with good vibes. If the Grateful Dead fans are known affectionately as “Deadheads,” then it would stand to reason Guster fans would be lovingly known as “Gusteroos.” Whether their fans are known by that or another name though does not matter, because both the band and their followers together create a uniqueness that is heartfelt. With that said, there is a sincere symbiotic relationship between Guster and their fans, thus why the band continues to draw interest all these years later. While the Winter tour is now concluded, hopes are Guster will announce further 2016 tour dates before they perform in Philadelphia, PA and the Firefly Music Festival held in Dover, DE come June.