Live review: Guster @ the Fox TheatreBy Craig Randall | August 16th, 2010 | No Comments »
We’ve all got them; bands tied directly to formative memories or introspective periods in our lives. The music doesn’t necessarily reflect our long-term scope of taste but nonetheless remains a fixture of, usually, pleasant memories. (ahem… Color Me Badd… ahem)
Guster is one of those bands for me, and I suspect, much of the sold-out crowd last Thursday at the Fox Theatre. With darlings (that’s not descriptive enough… the cultish!) Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros opening, there was a pretty sizable exodus in the audience following their set.
Thursday was night two of the three-day Triple A radio and industry conference (“Triple A” describes the format for stations that play music like Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows and Michael Franti, for example). Open to the public, the audience is inevitably peppered with industry taste-makers looking for new music to shape their station’s following-year playlists. Past performers for the Triple A Conference include Coldplay, Citizen Cope, Gomez, Cake and Bonnie Raitt.
Triple A always brings with it an air of big deal-ishness and this year even included an outdoor stage across the street in that parking lot where you can NEVER, ever find a spot, on the Hill. You know the one.
Guster’s commercial appeal came to a grinding halt following the excellent “Lost and Gone Forever,” a nearly perfect major label debut replete with Guster’s signature hand percussion, quirky lyrics and warmth. But nearly 10 years since “LAGF”’s release, and after almost 20 as a group, Guster seemed not overly confident in their ability to strike a chord with their new material. Singer Ryan Miller explained, before jumping into their new single “Do You Love Me?” that “I feel like a 13 year old boy. My voice is totally gonna crack.” Well, it didn’t, and the song felt extra bubbly with its handclaps and Miller’s falsetto.
I’ve always felt Guster doesn’t do “dark” well, so it was a buzz kill when the set went serious, playing “Airport Song,” getting all “who’s your daddy?!” and talking about how his bitchy ex is destined to sell books in the airport. Not for me. Nor was “Fa Fa,” the one track I categorically skip through on “LAGF”; it’s just a too self-conscious attempt at a stadium-style anthem.
Where Guster really wins is on Matthew Sweet-style mid-’90s driving songs and when the band plays up the gorgeousness of their harmonic ability. Luckily, songs like “Time Machine,” “Satellite” and “Careful,” brought the crowd back into celebratory mode. The highlight of the show was “This Could All Be Yours,” a song Guster has given a lot of mileage to live but yet to put on record.
Their new album, “Easy Wonderful” is due Oct. 5.
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Craig Randall is a Boulder-based writer and PR pro with an identity crisis. He credits both “Let Me Love You Down” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” as life-changing tracks. Check out his website.
Daniel Petty is a Denver-based photographer and social media editor at The Denver Post.