Friday night, November 13th, WTTS presented the third installment in the annual Rock to Read benefit concert series. Alternative rock band and long-time WTTS favorites, Guster, performed at the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre and proceeds benefited children’s reading programs all over Indianapolis. They also stopped by Sun King Studio 92 earlier in the day. Look for our posting of the interview and photos soon.
Guster began its story in 1991 and have seen much success throughout their career. The band originated in Boston, Massachusetts while attending Tufts University. On this tour for their latest album, Evermotion, the band decided to give high school/college bands the opportunity to open for them at various cities across the U.S. Porky’s Groove Machine opened up in Indianapolis and captivated the crowd with their many members, wacky costumes, and contagious funk grooves. Guster has a dedicated and ever-growing fan base that proved to be present in Indianapolis Friday night.
After WTTS DJ Paul Mendenhall thanked WTTS listeners and Guster fans alike for coming out to the show, the band took the stage. The four members took their places and began playing in front of a black curtain. The stage setup was unassuming and simple, as if to highlight the music. Only lighting changed the mood of the song outside of pure musicianship itself.
The band opened with “Diane” to a crowd who knew exactly what song it was from the first two chords and roared with delight. After the first song, lead singer Ryan Miller told the audience they looked beautiful and followed with, “It’s like Burning Man in Indianapolis…and I like it.” We do what we can, Ryan!
Brian Rosenworcel, who is nicknamed “Thundergod” alternated throughout the show between a traditional drum kit on the right side of the stage and a different set for hand drumming on bongos, congas, djembes, and other percussion instruments. “Thundergod” has to have broken a finger or two over the years of Guster recording and performing. He plays with such enthusiasm and passion that he even strikes the cymbals with his hands and gets great sound out of them. Organ, marimba sounds, brass instruments, synthesizer, and various other percussion instruments were featured alongside the guitars, bass, and keys.
Guster’s members are all blaringly obviously multi-talented and humble. They switch instruments throughout the show, they provide their own backing vocals on stage, and they seem to just enjoy playing together no matter where on stage they may be located for a certain song. It leaves the audience feeling that they’re getting a well-rounded show from men who are all on an even playing field. It makes for some magical tunes.
At one point in the evening, Guster announced that they would be collaborating with Porky’s Groove Machine for a song. Three band members joined them on Trombone, trumpet, and saxophone. Miller announced that they’d play a song they hadn’t played in a year and probably wouldn’t for another year. As soon as the song begins, the fans know it to be “Fa Fa.” The electricity from the stage was infectious from the faces of all those on stage and the crowd went insane. Later in the show, Miller explained that he saw an audience member playing the bongos on his girlfriend’s back along to an entire song. So, in Guster fashion, Miller invited them to the stage to play bongos on an impromptu song about bongos. It was hilarious and so refreshing in a concert of that size.
Highlights of the evening included “Happier,” “Simple Machine,” “Satellite,” “Do You Love Me,” “One Man Wrecking Machine,” and “Barrel of a Gun.” Guster closed with “This Could All Be Yours” before coming back on stage for a 3.5 song encore. They played “Long Night,” Red Oyster Cult,” and “Demons.” The half-song was another improvised song about a crazy cat lady in the audience who wanted them to sign a plastic cat from the stage. It was hilarious. A second encore performance included “Jesus On The Radio” to leave the crowd in musical bliss at the end of the evening.
Between the guests on stage, the simple stage setup, and the overall electricity from the band members who have been playing together (and enjoying it) for over twenty years, the final WTTS Rock to Read concert was a success. Ryan Miller coined it best when he proclaimed from the stage that this was “The night the Egyptian Room turned into a bunch of drunk babies.”
Thank you to all WTTS listeners who attended any of our Rock to Read shows this year! Don’t be sad it’s over, though, as our WTTS Christmas Can Concerts are right around the corner. At the beginning of December we’ll be bringing you Houndmouth (Dec. 3rd) and Leon Bridges (Dec. 6th) with proceeds from the shows benefiting Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington.