For the last twenty-plus years, Boston-bred rockers Guster have flirted with acoustic pop, alternative rock, radio-dominating ear candy, jams of joyfully unclassifiable nature, and most recently, lo-fi indie rock. Yet no matter the tone of a particular era, the group’s always loaded its material with melodic sensibility, which was even more apparent when the foursome visited a sold out Vic Theatre for the first of a two night stand.
Clearly there was strength in the spontaneity of Guster’s set, and with a second show on the docket, another chance for repeat attendees to hear a varied selection.
Though Guster made sure to address several songs from every past corner of its career, there was also some showcasing of its seventh studio project “Evermotion” (Ocho Mule/Nettwerk Records), which features a first time production collaboration with The Shins’ Richard Shift. “Doin’ It By Myself” took a sublime and sophisticated approach, “Simple Machine” carved out a quirky dance vibe, while “Lazy Love” adapted an atmospheric hint of psychedelic influence.
Indeed it’s a new era for a band often defined at passing glance by smash hits “Amsterdam,” “Satellite” and “Fa Fa,” though perhaps to show just how much they’ve evolved, the former never popped up in this performance. Surely that was a blow to more casual onlookers, but for nearly two hours, Guster made sure to masterfully reinforce its commitment towards reinvention, even employing a local trumpet, trombone and saxophone player on many tracks.
In fact, the bulk of the crowd seemed right in step with the decision, reacting potently to pretty much everything presented, especially the deeper cut “Demons” and the massive sing-a-long “This Could All Be Yours.” Clearly there was strength in the spontaneity of Guster’s set, and with a second show on the docket, another chance for repeat attendees to hear a varied selection.
There was also a steady stream of humor, including the players’ periodic tripping over their concoction of cables, plus front man Ryan Miller’s sarcastic promotion (and admitted purchase) of a bootleg T-shirt being sold outside. Even the audience got in on the action, tossing ping pong balls throughout the entire encore as yet another reminder that when it comes to a Guster show, there’s often times more power in the unpredictable rather than simply sticking to a nightly script.
Click here for more Guster photos from the first Vic Theatre show.