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Submitted to by Dave

Bates College (Gray Cage), Lewiston, Maine

The Gray Cage - an ancient college gym, as sparse and humble as it is intimate. Capacity 1600 people and not even sold out. I hadn't seen or heard of Guster since they backed up the Bare Naked Ladies in 2000. Sure, they rode in a bus the size of a mobile home, but if they couldn't sell out this tiny place (for a paltry $20!), had their careers turned south while I wan't looking?

Nope. They've only gotten better...

The show started promptly at 8:00 with the Same Roberts band playing a respectable 45 minute set. I'd never heard of them before, thier style similar to Guster's, perhaps a bit rowdier. I wanted to buy their CD after the show, but none were available (sold out, or poor planning??)

Then after a 40 minute intermission, the lights went down, the crowd surged, and the guys took the stage, opening with I Spy. Ryan bantered a bit with the crowd - noting that the band had visited this very venue many years ago, back when they were just "Gus", and he even recalled how the back wall had been lined with tables where beer was offered. (Tonight, the only beer to be found would be the Heineken cans that the Sam Roberts band enjoyed onstage - Guster slaked their thirst with Poland Spring water.) The set list continued with: Homecoming King, Happier, Come Downstairs And Say Hello, What You Wish For, Airport Song, Ramona, The Talking Heads' Nothing But Flowers, Mona Lisa, Amsterdam, Backyard, Either Way (a few well-prepared fans in the front row blew bubbles into the air - a nice touch that Guster might want to add to the act!), Careful, and Barrel Of A Gun. At this point Ryan announced "OK this will be our last song, then we'll walk 10 feet offstage, you all clap real loud, and we'll come back and play a couple more." The regular set ended with Fa Fa - featuring the stobes on a wildly thrashing Brian.

I guess 1000+ people in a small gym can generate a lot of noise, as Ryan noted appreciatively, "Wow that was some real good encore clapping." They launched into Keep It Together, Two Points For Honesty, and Demons. The guys said good night with an unplugged rendition of Jesus On The Radio. Beautiful.

This band is way too talented to be playing such humble venues for long. Catch 'em while you can...