Guster's performance Wednesday night was everything it should have been- almost. The Boston-based trio blended tight vocals with nearly arranged instrucmentation to a backdrop of roaring crowd response and appreciation. It was all of the things one might yearn for from a concert- except it lacked inspiration.
The band is led by the dual acoustic guitar playing and unison harmonic vocals of lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan Miller and rhythem guitarist/volcalist Adam Gardner, but it's percussionist Brian Rosenworcel's lack of a full drum kit that gives the band its characteristic edge. He frantically slaps at congas, cymbals and any number of percussion insturments, mostly without the aid of drumsticks , to provide Guster's rhythmically-charged sound.
Formed nearly a decade ago, Guster garnered a rabid Northeast following for their unique instrumentation and pop writing syle. The band earned a name for itself nationally playing at last year's ill-fated Woodstock festival, and drew local attention as the opening act last summer for Canadian group Great Big Sea's Thursday in the Square appearance.
Plaged by an overall bass heavy sound-difficult to imagine since the group does not possess a bass player-Guster played their most recent radio friendly single, "Barrel of a Gun," early in their set to the crowd's resonant apparoval. On "All the Way Up to Heaven," the group utilized spare instrumentation, giving Rosenworcel the opportunity to try his hand at other percussion tools while Miller and Gardner whistled along in unison to the song's chorus.
Throughout the group's set, Miller engaged the audience with politely humorous banter, but accidently tapped into their collective tastes when a comically sincere reading of the Backstreet Boys' hit "I Want It That Way" was resoundingly completed by the young audience.
Guster writes the kind of light-weight balladry that made fleeting stars of such groups as Deep Blue Something, Hootie and the Blowfish and Semisonic. The thoughtfully maudlin nature of the band's songs seemed self-imposed, as if the group could not decide if it wanted to be a wistfully sweet folk band or comically charged hard-rocking bar band. For their part, the crowd remained blissfully unaware, silently swaying in unison to Guster's songs, perhaps in search of anew anthem to replace the forgotten ones.
Opening act Dr. Didg, led by former Outback founder Graham Wiggins, proved a hypnotic trancelike opening act, in stark comparison to Guster's melodically-charged pop offerings. Blending elements of world, jazz, funk and progressive rock, Dr. Didg proved an incongruous opener to the night of lilting rock. Crouched into a stooped fetus position, Wiggins played the unwieldy didgeridoo, an instrument native to the aborigines of Australia, accompanied by a rhythmically loose guitar and drum backing band.
Pop band kicking off it national tour with Dr. Didg
Wednesday night in the Tralf