I have gone almost 15 months without attending a live music show. For some, that might not mean anything, but for people like me, it’s like a car with a leak in the tires: You don’t notice it at first, then something feels funny, before you’re worn down and out of air.
So when the foursome announced that their first live show since before the pandemic was going to be in Shelburne, VT, almost 4 hours away, I knew I had to trek up to the boonies for that much-needed musical recharge.
I can’t think of a better act to start the post-pandemic concert calendar. Guster’s music has always been fun and infectious (in a good way), but never before have I found it so honest and uplifting.
The set started with “I Spy” which echoed how many of us are feeling: “I’ve been so damned tired.” The sweeping orchestration of the song quickly woke up the 5,000+ attendees, with a foot-stomping rendition of “The Captain” following. ”Long Night“ was on its heels, which captured how the past 15 months felt to all of us, and “Terrified” subtly reminded us how we’re all responsible for our action (or inaction), but how we “got to open up our heart/everybody‘s got it hard.” The concert, in other words, was not only a reflection of where we were, but where we can and need to go from this turning point in history.
But it was not without its typical silly Guster moments: For “Lightning Rod,” frontman Ryan Miller related an email he received from a fan whose son plays the accordion and wanted to join the band on stage, which he did. Miller also amused with his anecdotes about learning to speak to an audience again after so long without performing.
Much of the 22 song set came from ”Ganging Up the Sun” which just celebrated its 15th anniversary. They did most of their hits, too, although I had been hoping to hear their new single “Emily Ivory.” But to fault them for not playing every fan favorite would be unfair (not to mention make the concert go on for days if they did).
Their greatest strength is that their music is a gentle and joyous reminder of how each one of us faces “Hard Times” but if we just “Hang On,” the future we dream can be all ours someday.