Capping off a two-night run in Colorado, Guster dazzled the crowd last Thursday night at The Ogden Theatre with a mighty selection of tunes spanning almost their entire career. Starting things off with the opening track off their breakthrough third record, “Lost and Gone Forever”, the band launched into “What You Wish For”, a staple opener in their live repertoire, a fan favorite which immediately enraptured the crowd as they sang along to every word. The set featured a real solid distribution of new and old songs, including songs off the band’s recently released record “Look Alive”, which often times provided the most thematic moments of the evening, especially “Hello Mister Sun”, which featured some pretty darn fancy hats. The entire set was a highlight for me. They played hits like “Fa Fa”, “Barrel Of A Gun” and “Amsterdam”, as well as some deeper cuts like “Rocketship” or “That’s No Way To Get To Heaven”, featuring the Guster auxiliary horns. They played one of my all-time favorite Guster songs “Come Downstairs And Say Hello”, which had a beautiful intro with the entire crowd lightly singing the first verse. They played “Happier”, which was one of the biggest sing-a-longs during a set pretty much made of them. Truly cannot say enough great things about the show, but let me digress a bit…
I hadn’t seen Guster in about 15 years, which sounds so crazy to me that I always feel like I need to double-check the number for a fifth time. Guster was my first indie-rock love. In an awkward transitional period between liking the transcendent musings of nu-metal and trying to find something that felt more genuine, I found Guster playing “Airport Song” on the Woodstock ’99 DVD. I was immediately hooked, and for a while, I saw them more than any other band. But as life happens, a combination of various moves, marriage and jobs kept me from seeing one of my favorite bands of all time for around 15 years. I never stopped being a fan, following their music from a far, but I hadn’t been able to experience the live show in quite some time. The lineup has changed a bit since I last saw them. Guitarist Joe Pisapia, who was a new addition the last time I saw the band back in 2004, is no longer in the group. Ryan will sometimes now play the keys or just sing without playing guitar, or sing with a British accent. Airport Song has been completely re-worked and now features keys, an electric guitar and a pretty badass and danceable jam (but absolutely still features a blast of ping-pong balls at the crescendo). But all these changes never felt forced or so crazy that I no longer recognized the band. In fact, to the contrary, they felt like proper evolutions which have elevated the band and expanded their sound considerably. Guster are still the absolute kings of melody. They have a knack for songwriting that is hard to describe in terms other than, they just write great songs. There isn’t a single moment during one of their shows where you can’t find hundreds of fans singing every single word. Guster fans are some of the most engaged fans I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying a show with. Maybe I got lucky that night, but there wasn’t a single arbitrary conversation or obnoxious fan all night. It felt like we were all equally excited to see the band that night, which was crazy because I was pretty fucking excited.
People often think I got into taping because of Phish and/or Grateful Dead, and the truth is that before them, I was a fan of Guster. So when I found the live music archive, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that Guster allowed audio taping of their shows. Not only that, it seemed like they had the type of shows that were worth taping, where no two were exactly alike. Different setlists every night. Improv songs. Crowd interaction. Covers of Nine Inch Nails songs. Guster had it all. And you know what? They still do. Every single show this tour has had a completely different set list, which should surprise no hard core fan, as the band has such a deep-well of fantastic music to pick from each night, but it’s that type of dedication to the craft and live experience that sets Guster apart from many peers. It shows a level of respect for their fans that is genuine and is not lost on their fan base, which I recently discovered is as robust on Facebook, if not more so, than it was when I used to lurk their fan-site Guster.net (which by the way I found a review I wrote back in 2003 for a show I was at when I was in highschool. It’s embarrassing but humbling to see how much Guster still does it for me). They had a hilarious improv song which explained Luke Reynolds’ past in Colorado and why he was wearing a backbrace, which somehow morphed into a song about independent southern women. A fan in the upper level was dancing so emphatically during the first few tunes that Ryan coined him “General Appendage Exuberance Guy”, calling on him to assist in introducing the encore later on. These things seemed simple and arbitrary and silly…and they are. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t unique, and in a day and age where popular rock acts will go an entire tour without even changing their banter, this approach will always resonate more with true live music fans. Guster still seems to be having more fun than anyone else in the room, which is crazy because we were all having a lot of fun that night.
So suffice it to say, Guster has had a huge impact on me. When I became a taper, there were very few bands that I felt I needed or wanted to tape more than Guster. Taping has been an incredibly rewarding hobby of mine for the past 3 years and I am beyond proud to finally be able to give back, even just a tiny bit, to the archive’s collection that helped spark my initial interest almost 20 years ago. Enjoy!
Guster | 2019-02-07 | The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO
-= One Set =-
02. What You Wish For
04. Look Alive
06. The Captain
07. Airport Song
08. That’s No Way To Get To Heaven
09. Hello Mister Sun
10. Red Oyster Cult
12. Come Downstairs And Say Hello
13. Do You Love Me
14. (Luke Reynolds – Southern Independent Woman Jam)
15. Stay With Me Jesus
16. My Satellite
18. Way Back Home
19. Hang On
20. Barrel Of A Gun
21. Dear Valentine
23. Fa Fa
-= Encore =-
24. (Encore Break)
25. Long Night
Show Notes: This show was a part of 2019 The Look Alive World Tour Of Most Of America & Parts Of Southern Canada. Henry Jamison opened the show.
Taper Notes: DFC directly behind the soundboard. Mics raised around 10′ PAS.