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Amid the sea of emo indie rock bands floats the irrepressibly upbeat Guster. Their refreshingly whine-free vocals and jangly guitars kept fans bopping their heads and jumping at Toad's Place Tuesday night.
The Boston-based band pulled songs from most of their albums for the show; including their uber crowd-pleasing breakout hits "Barrel of a Gun" and "Fa Fa." Suspiciously absent from the set was the more recent single "One Man Wrecking Machine." Perhaps it was left out because it is decidedly slower-paced than most of their catalog.
Frontman Ryan Miller was relaxed and chummy with the audience. He lamented this as the band's last club show before returning to college venues. After one song, Miller asked the people at the front of the audience if someone had farted. One fan actually raised their hand. Miller said it was the most disgusting experience he's ever had on stage.
Guitarist and vocalist Adam Gardener spoke a few words about his environmental efforts and his creation of a green non-profit organization. These words turned into a short improvised song about biodiesel fuel.
Brian Rosenworcel, known to fans as "The Thundergod," proved a notable powerhouse of frenetic hands on bongos. As per Guster show tradition, after singing "Airport Song" ping pong balls were hurled at the band by the audience.
Guster's sound walks the line between mellow indie and rock, but they do manage to break the barrier and really rock out on a handful of songs. The band isn't afraid to use sound effects, adding psychedelic noises, distortion and voice modulation.
The show's sound was impeccable. Watching the sound engineer masterfully push buttons and turn knobs on a ridiculously large sound board proved just as impressive as the sound itself. One of the house technicians said the engineer was so talented, he doesn't do sound checks.
At times the lighting proved distracting, as automated lighting fixtures whirled uncontrollably with spastic color changes.
For their first encore, the band barely left the stage. The audience had to be very quiet to hear Guster's second encore - an entirely unplugged version of "Jesus on the Radio." - Olivia Beatty