October 14, 2007
The Culture Room
Better Than: And egghead keg party 10 years after graduating college.
Thank Zeus for huge favors: Last night Guster did not open for Barenaked Ladies or Toad the Wet Sprocket or Modest Mouse (as they have in the past), nor did they play a college campus (as they have and are throughout this tour). They did not bring the noise (though they did kinda rock the house), they did not dance with the stars (though they did beat a cosmic cowbell), and they did not pretend to be anything other than exactly what they are:
A buncha eggheads who together make beautiful music.
We walked in on “Satellite,” the kinda heartfelt strum that Fountains of Wayne might write if they had listened to more America back in grad school. Of course the grad school analogy’s just my way of smirking at their smartness (so far as I know, neither band has had the time to stay in school that long), but it’s not a completely gratuitous wisecrack, not if the wise simplicity in the song is any indication.
And not if the crowd who jammed Culture was any indication either, who, if not entirely college age, certainly had some college in them. In fact, I’d bet good money that not a soul in the packed Room wasn’t intimately familiar with the rigors of higher learning.
Or the fun of campus life – which only makes perfect sense when you consider Guster’s core (Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller, and Brian Rosenworcel) met in freshman orientation at Tufts way back in ‘91 and have been together ever since.
I mean, natch, the freedom, the hook-ups, the newness of it all, a rite that’s inherent in every one of Guster’s tunes, which last night contained a very crammed coursing of last year’s deceptively gargantuan Ganging Up on the Sun, as well as extra-credits in Goldfly (‘96/’98), Lost and Gone Forever (’99) and Keep it Together (’03).
But enough with the stretched metaphors, this show was all about songs and a band that’s damn happy to sing them – all. “Ruby Falls” (dig that trumpet solo!), “Manifest Destiny” (out Folds Ben!), “Airport Song” (love that ping-pong ball coda!), “Amsterdam” (“up in the clouds” indeed), and a slew of other tracks that I’d know the titles of if I were as rabidly devoted as the Gusterrhoids who filled Culture. Whether or not they played their soul-baring “One Man Wrecking Machine,” I don’t know (we arrived ten minutes late and left an hour later, right after Ryan asked if it was okay to get drunk), but we do know that it wouldn’t have mattered if they had – or they hadn’t. The well-educated party people were glad to have ‘em anyway they came.
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The Boston boys are long outta school, and so am I, and if you’re not now, you will be, one day, so forget the fact that Guster heavily harkens back to those halcyon days, and instead remember that they also show how to live above and beyond them. Smart. -- John Hood
Personal Bias: I like eggheads.
Random Detail: Not for nothing do Gusterrhoids call Brian the “Thundergod” – that cat bangs like Thor!
By the Way: Ryan’s writing a short story for MTV Books.