Rocking Kendall Hall on Nov. 14, Guster, half of whom are from the Garden State and proud of it, played to a nearly full house. The band played the big fall show sponsored by the College Union Board (CUB) on the main stage at Kendall, supported by the New York City-based band Sam Champion.
Fifty percent of the band is from Jersey, percussionist Brian Rosenworcel said in an interview before the show. “We wonder if we should call ourselves a Jersey band,” he said. Though they still say the band is Boston-based, the addition of Joe Pisapia, bassist from Rahway, has tipped the scales, according to Rosenworcel.
“I think you need to keep writing new material to keep the set fresh,” Rosenworcel said, in regard to what he’s learned in his years of touring. After touring for a while the material gets stagnant, Rosenworcel said, and the band members then enter the studio and record 12 more songs. “When you’re in the studio, you itch for the road; too long with each one and you itch for the other,” he said. “You’ve gotta keep a healthy cycle going.”
The show started with some tension between audience members and police officers hired for security when students didn’t want to sit during the performance. “This is such a bad way to start a show,” Adam Gardner, lead singer, said with apprehension.
However, a compromise was reached and students stood in their seats, cheering relentlessly for the band. Between the second and third songs of the set, Gardner checked with those in attendance to be sure everything was resolved. The band had “never been so punk rock” as to have to stop mid-song, Gardner said. “The children want to stand!”
Fan favorites, including “Airport Song,” got big reactions from the crowd. “Airport Song” was accompanied by ping pong balls tossed from the crowd onto the stage, an event that happens at every Guster show.
“Come Downstairs And Say Hello,” an upbeat, percussion-filled song, was met with loud crowd approval, particularly from those in the balcony. Rosenworcel played with bare hands, accomplishing what no drumstick ever could.
It was obvious that Gardner did his homework before getting to the College. “Is it true that your mascot is a lion?” he asked the audience, mentioning that he looked up the College before getting here. “And is it true that his name is Roscoe?” Gardner said that after reading that, he had to stop because “everything after that wouldn’t be as cool.”
When asked what song he was most excited to play before the show, Rosenworcel said “‘Ruby Falls,’ in a nice theater, as compared to a college auditorium . Adam (Gardner) is still learning to play the trumpet solo” that’s featured in the song. He said that Gardner only learned to play after the band needed someone to learn the solo. “When we record we never worry about how we’re going to pull it off on tour because we always do,” Rosenworcel said.
He took time between songs to share other stories with the audience, including an anecdote about the worst Guster show ever, which he said was at a prom in an urban school in Massachusetts. “There isn’t a whiter band on this planet,” he said.
After the main set, Gardner told the audience that if they clapped loud enough and for long enough, the members of the band who were from Jersey, “if any,” would come out for an encore. After the cheers, Pisapia and Gardner came out, joined soon after by the other two members of the band. The band played two encores, the first with a song about Jersey to which Gardner added a line about Roscoe, the College’s beloved mascot.
During the second encore, the band played an acoustic version of “Jesus on the Radio” at the edge of the stage. Pisapia played the banjo and Rosenworcel played the tambourine to a quiet audience.
“I had my share of doubts as to whether they could pull together an energetic show,” Jake Voytko, senior computer science major, said. “But they sounded great and their front man was hysterical.”
Opener Sam Champion, named after the weatherman from ABC’s New York affiliate WABC, kept the audience engaged and was met with loud, appreciative applause. With a curly blond mop fitting for a china doll, the bassist, Jack Dolgen, shook his head in time with the crescendo of guitar played by Ryan Thornton. Rosenworcel chose the band as the opener, having produced their record.
“I think the show was absolutely fabulous,” Katerina Gkionis, the Guster concert coordinator, said. “It was such a great feeling when the show started and everyone went crazy, and I saw everyone having such an amazing time … we made people smile.”
After the show, the band took a trip to an off-campus house for a game of beer pong, to be filmed for a collaboration between its record label, Warner, and YouTube to record Guster’s New Year’s Resolution to “spend more time with their fans – playing beer pong.” The party at senior history major Jono De Leon’s house, where both Sam Champion and Guster spent about an hour playing, was filmed for the Web site.
Their visit ended with broken glass, when someone had to bust the rear window on their rental car when the keys were locked in.