Friday, February 20, 2004

Concert Review: Guster @ The Calvin Theater

Like this, but bigger and in color.

When you've been to as many concerts as I have (see this backdated still-incomplete list of concerts I've attended for my street creds) you know it's the subtle things that make the difference. So you leave your coat in the car, the cold line outside the venue easily worth the traded-off stress of having to keep track of your coat in the cruching crowd. You wear confortable shoes, and practice stepping backwards into the social vacuum of the crowd when someone sqeezes through behind you, else the crush of the crowd pin you to the stage. You arrive early, to examine the front doors for a tipoff on crowd entering dynamics, and position yourself accordingly. And if, like me, your body getting older, you take Aleve for preventative purposes before leaving school with Molly for last night's show.

Prepared, then, and willing to wait until someone else starts the line outside, we arrived in 'Hamp with plenty of time for a nice bellywarming vegetarian stirfry supper at local sushi/chinese hotspot Teapot to warm our bellies as we stood outside sans coats for an hour outside one of my favorite local venues and watched the line grow behind us. The CVS-bought soupcans -- worth a free poster each once inside the door -- weighed heavy in my shivering arms. When the door opened we went for posters quick quick quick before flying down the aisle to a position quite near the stage, and sat down ofn the floor -- both to save the calves and to keep some space around us before the lights went down and the crowd pressed in.

Our placement wasn't perfect -- I spent much of the show watching a mole on the back of a tall man's neck. But two rows back from the stage a slight rock in either direction keeps first drums and bass, then lead guitar and keyboards in alternating view. We were close enough to see the lead singer's fillings, and to snag the pre-licked pick the cute lead guitarist of poppy-but-decent opening act Graham Colton, though the Guster set lists were fought over too voraciously for our tastes.

Guster was...Guster, though much closer than I'd seen them before. I hadn't seen them since a school-chaperone gig down to Hartford four years ago; in the interim they've gone a bit more sparse, and picked up a master keyboardist and second guitarist who added a wonderful layer to the geekrock sound the band-once-named-Gus has always been famous for. Leadsinger Ryan seemed a bit rusty on their first day back on the road after after a few-week band hiatus; he started a few songs with the wrong verse, and missed some licks. But the new album's work sounds great, and the wash of sound a nice change from what was once -- when I first saw them, a struggling Tufts college band just a year or two older than I am, on the post-edge of acoustic folk, with the funky lanky drummer banging away on a drum kit with his bare hands, albeit wrapped in white bandages to quell the blood and bruising.

Woke up this morning sluggish, almost drugged; my back aches, and my knees have been shaky all day. But it was worth it just to see Molly swoon when the Guster guys walked up to the edge of the stage for an acoustic and unmiked encore less than four feet from our unbelieving eyes. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:27 PM |

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