Guster In the Spot Light
by Lindsey White
Reprinted by permission courtesy of Face Magazine
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I walked into the state theater feeling a new sense of excitement. I've attended many shows here before but never did the State Theatre glow as much as it did that night. The energy in the room seemed to gain its charge from each person as they excitedly filled the theatre one by one. Although the crowd didn't appear to have much in common- some had spikes in their chin while others were 45 or even 10 years old- everyone had the same thing on their minds: Guster.
Guster, a trio that originated in Boston, made up of Adam Gardner (vocals), Brian Rosenworcel (drums) and Ryan Miller (vocal/guitar) have grown to create their own unique sense of style and in return their own following. The music they produce is so refreshingly open and unlike anything else out there today that it attracts an indefinite audience range. What makes them so distinct from any other band I have seen these past few years is their approach to the music. Brian Rosenworcel, the heartbeat and drummer of the band, plays almost all the music without any drum sticks at all, using only his hands. The sound this technique produces is energetic and strongly addicting. Few drummers can pull it off like he does. With the combination of this unique drum style and Miller's unmistakable voice, it's no surprise that it was a sold-out show.
Guster has toured all over. They even recently headlined at the famous Radio City Music Hall this past year. Yet, they have been no strangers to the Portland area. They've actually made themselves right at home here in our coastal city in Maine. A few years ago, I saw them open for Barenaked Ladies at the Cumberland County Civic Center. (I even remember one of the "ladies" teasing Brian about his "fluffy" hair.) Over this past summer Guster also did a patio show with WCYY. The free show is rumored to have attracted about 10,000 Guster fans. With an outcome like that, it only makes sense that they would return for the annually anticipated CYY Holiday Bizarre. What wasn't expected, however, was that they would choose Portland Maine to film their very first DVD.
Perhaps this was part of the cause for all the electricity in the air. On top of the normal excitement of a show at the State Theatre, there was the added commotion of the production crew. Lights, cameras, photographers, lighting specialists and sound crews were covering every inch of the theatre. Guster spared no expense when it came to capturing one of their best performances yet. The audience was very aware of how lucky they were to attend the soon to be famous" Guster event. It seemed as if each person had hopes that they would burn up their 15 minutes of fame by getting themselves immortalized in the Guster DVD. Some even waited in line for 11 hours to ensure that they could get a spot up front were they could be seen.
After opening act Howie Day left the stage, the crowd roared in anticipation for Guster. After a short wait, the lights finally dimmed to a soft white and blue as the sound of bagpipes filled our ears. Out marched Guster like heroes walking to their final mission. This was their second night of the Holiday Bizarre and their last chance to capture footage for their DVD. Guster was here to play for the world; they were not just playing for Portland's eyes any more.
As soon as the guys took their place on stage they broke into the familiar bongo beat of "I Spy" from their successful album Lost and gone forever. The stage lighting was incredible, illuminating the entire theatre and crowd, flashing bright blues and reds. The room literally seemed to glow with energy. In between songs, Miller introduced a new idea; "We may possibly play our longest set ever." And that they did. Their normal set which usually lasted 72-75 minutes or so, stretched on to be a 2 hour whirl wind. Their hit "Barrel of the Gun" ended up being one of the high points for the night. The rush that swept over the crowd was extremely intense. The entire audience thumped each beat and sang every word of the song, throwing their hands in the air to the lyric "four, three, two, one." A little over half way through the show, Brian Rosenworcel decided to come out from hiding behind his drum set and take a shot at singing for a change. He did his own squeaky rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" while the rest of the guys played backup for him. Although Brian is the heart beat of Guster and an amazing drummer, well, let's just say that I understand why they hide him behind a drum set and not a microphone. Let's leave the singing to Adam and Ryan, ok Brian?
However he did redeem himself later on. For the encore the Guster boys asked the audience for complete silence. I never thought that a sold out theatre of that size could become so silent. Not a word was spoken as the crowd waited anxiously to see what they had in store. The trio counted down then softly sang beautiful, outstanding a cappella. No one can say these guys have no talent after putting on a show like that. They proved they could do it all.
As the crowd slowly cleared out, a strange sense of unity swept over me. In a weird way, I felt that everyone who had attended this show shared something unique and special that those who missed it lacked. From this day on we will always be able to look back on the 12-20-03 Holiday Bizarre and say, "I was there."
- Lindsey White