Concerts Concerts Guster Doesn't Just Blow Through Toronto

Guster Doesn't Just Blow Through Toronto

Guster at Phoenix Concert Theatre
Guster
Jukebox The Ghost
Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, ON
March 31, 2011

Photos and Review by: Pete Nema

I can't even remember how I discovered Guster back in the late '90s, but since then they have been a regular part of my listening patterns.

Guster

Despite the fact that I listen to Guster regularly, I wasn't entirely sure how many other Torontonians knew who they were. However, given that their career now spans 20 years, it seems obvious that there must be many people out there like me. Since this Toronto show was the first time I got to see them in concert, it also provided some insight into who these other Guster-loving Toronto fans are. I ran into fans of Ben Folds, I ran into young music loving friends, I ran into older music fans, and I even ran into members of local Toronto bands, such as The Free Press. This all makes sense. Although Guster's bongo-backed alternative music may not be the seed that spawns an out-of-control party, it is definitely great listening for hanging around the house with friends, so it should be no surprise that their music appeals to a wide audience.

The band is fronted by Ryan Miller (guitar, vocals) whose easy-going and off-the-cuff banter between songs is clearly the result of experience from years of touring. Toronto was the first stop on this particular tour and after asking the audience how they were feeling, he added a little insight into how he felt, "I was changing diapers last night, so this feels pretty good."

As expected, the 25+ song set list spanned their entire career, with a healthy dose of songs coming from their 2010 release Easy Wonderful. It also included a couple surprises, including Kevin Hearn (of Barenaked Ladies) leading the band through the BnL children's song "Vegetable Town", complete with Tyler Stewart (also of BnL) dressed in a hot dog costume joining them on stage. ("Pay no attention to the hot dog!")

As the set drew closer to the end, the band produced one of the highlights of the evening, an on-stage mash-up of their song "Hang On" from their 2006 album Ganging Up On The Sun and "My Life" by Billy Joel. Also contained within the set were many of the band's most loved songs, such as "What You Wish For", "Demons", "Satellite", "Barrel Of A Gun", and "Diane".

After a generously full night, the band left the stage, only to return with "Jesus On The Radio," performed from the edge of the stage and completely unplugged. The band said goodnight and left the stage once again; shortly afterward the venue turned on the lights and started playing music. That was, however, a decoy... the crowd continued to cheer, and eventually the band returned to stage with Ryan announcing, "You know what? We don't come here very often. We'll do one more." The bonus material ended up being a cover of "Under The Bridge" (Red Hot Chili Peppers) with Brian Rosenworcel (drums, percussion) tackling lead vocals with lots of emotion and amusing inaccuracy.

Info: Guster
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Video: Amsterdam

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Jukebox The Ghost

I arrived late to the show, but still managed to catch a few songs from Jukebox The Ghost, a three piece band out of Philadelphia. Excellent vocals, interesting music, skilled players, and good performers. It turns out I have their 2010 album Everything Under The Sun in my collection, but it has been unintentionally ignored. After seeing them perform, I will be intentionally queuing it up for a couple of listening sessions. They're definitely a band I would make an effort to see again.

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