|Submitted to Guster.net by Paul
Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
I was introduced to Guster when they played a live set on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" program earlier this year. I was immediately hooked by their acoustic performance. Their poppy-thoughtful music and hypnotic harmonizing filled a music void that I have been dealing with since my college days. My review is from a newbies perspective.
It was a somewhat nostalgic experience attending the Guster show at the Wiltern Theatre last night. The last (and only) time I had stepped foot in this place was in 1989 to see my first concert - The Alarm "Change" tour. I walked away from both concerts with a similar feeling: the world's a better place with this music...
The night began with the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players which was interesting act to say the least. A novel idea, showing slides purchased at garage sales while singing a humorous narative to go along. Oh, and as the name implies, the whole Trachtenburg family family is in the band. Rachel, the eight year old (by my guestimate) daughter, played a mean drum set and sings backup. She was most impressive. After the silliness wore off (about 15 minutes into their set) I was ready for Guster. Now if I could only stop singing "Mountain Trip - To Japan - 1959".....
The main event - Guster. I didn't know the first song - like I said - I'm a newbie. I believe it was "What you Wish", but don't quote me. Incredible! Brian was out of control on his percussion set. Smoke spewing from behind him while thrashing wildly on his bongos, snare and symbols - gave the impression he was overheating! The sound was unbelievable - each base drum kick shook your body. The contrast on Ryan's clean Richenbacher and dirty sounding Les Paul were a treat to the ears as was Adam's Gretch - Gawd, I got guitar envy!! The harmonzing between Ryan and Adam was outstanding... Some of my favs were "Barrel of Gun", "Homecoming King", "Fa Fa", and "Backyard".
At some point Ryan explained how/why they recently appeared on an episode of "The OC". He also told the story of how the banjo solo came about in "Keep it Together". When it came time for the "last" song, Ryan very nonchalantly, explained "This is our "last" song" - using a quote hand gesture around the word song. "We will then leave the stage, you will cheer and we'll be back for an encore". How refreshing! It still cracks me up that this little encore game continues with live music. Guster tells you right up front what to expect - funny.
The encore was impressive - featuring "Amsterdam". Brian's rendition of "Total Eclipse on the Heart" was tear jerking - actually it was side-splitting funny! One of the roadies even came out to sing a "turn around"... Good stuff.
My wife and I enjoyed ourselves whole-heartedly that evening. Guster is a class-act band and wish them all the best.. Long live Guster!!