About a week ago, I was supposed to see one of my most faaaaaavorite bands with some of my faaaaaaaavorite people, The KTA and Ian C. Anderson. If you don’t know, The KTA is a total boss at teaching literature and vital life lessons (like grammar!) to high schoolers, is a supurrb momma to Atticus Galacticat, and is a fellow bosom friend in all things bridesmaid, Austen, and Spotify. Her hubby is pretty great–a composer, brewer of funereal-tasting beverages (so says this non-beer drinker), and Hunchpig podcast co-host. Oh, he also marries awesome people, in an awesomely deft and witty Ian C. Anderson way. There was also this night last fall when we sang a Josh Groban-Celine Dion duet in the Anderson basement and The Poor KTA suffered thoroughly.
Here’s The KTA on a night I’m so glad I’m able to live vicariously through her. Ping pong on, my friend!
Since high school, my friends and I have traveled far and wide to see the bands we love. (I still go to a fair amount of concerts, especially for someone who wakes up at 5:30 and is not a morning go-getter). One of those bands in high school and college was Guster.
I think I’ve probably seen Guster six or seven times now. I remember one show in Worcester where we got bumper stickers that said “Worcester is for G<3STER” that I kept on one of my CD binders for a long time. One time in college we went to the Bank of America Pavilion, where they drove up on a speedboat and then ran on stage. They’re a guaranteed fun time.
I mean, look at these goofs:
I remember I had a terribly oversized Men’s large T-tshirt of their drummer, Brian, as “Thunder God”. It was a ringer tee, and it had some iron-on picture of Brian as some sort of half-man, half-yeti creature: The Thunder God. (More on my high school fashion sense in a later post).
But as years passed, my music tastes changed, and Guster’s music changed a little (they added one band member, and then another, and with them they added a DRUM KIT and Brian started using sticks instead of constantly destroying his hands. HOW DARE HE.) The little trio from Tufts had graduated and moved on to being a bigger radio-friendly band. My little angsty heart said SELL OUT and I moved on to Radiohead and U2 and PJ Harvey and David Bowie (sigh).
But once I figured out I didn’t need to maintain my angsty and musically pretentious exterior forever, I found my way back to Guster. In the past couple of years, I’ve seen them three times! In 2013, my husband and I went to Ohio where they played with Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies (wholesome fun for the whole fam!). Then later in 2013, we saw them again with some of my husband’s friends at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium where they played a benefit for the Greater Boston Food Bank. I realized I kind of liked their new material. Those shows were really different, though. With Guster as a co-headlining band with two other big groups (a BF5 reunion show, no less!), they didn’t play for very long. And at the GBFB show, it was a sit down thing – no dancing!
So when I saw they were coming through Boston this year, I might’ve passed, except for a quick email from Kristin (<3) asking if Ian and I would want to go. Yes, it was on a Friday night (Friday nights are hard for teachers. Friday nights are hard for most adults). Yes, it would be at the House of Farts (spoiler alert – there were farts), but it’s Guster, and it’s two of my favorite concert buddies, and sure to be a blast.
Unfortunately, Kristin backed out (DISNEY VACATION AWAITS!) so I had to go with just my husband. Oh wait, my husband. A dreamboat of a human who loves music just as much as I do, and grew up loving Guster and Ben Folds Five and was never angsty a day in his life! (I swear, if we met in high school, it wouldn’t have worked out). We agreed that if they played a bunch of the new stuff, we would leave early. FRIDAYS, MAN.
Then I got a message from a coworker that she and her boyfriend would be there. COOL!
They came out to the Donald Trump Jam. Oh, how I missed the silly antics of Guster.
Maybe 10 people in the whole place knew the song, and that made it all the better. And yes, they stood on stage awkwardly while they waited for the entire song to finish.
(I feel like I’m doing a very detailed-oriented play by play of the show right now, but I swear, this is important.)
They did their hellos and announced that since they were playing for two nights here, they would be playing a lot of their old stuff. OLD STUFF!
I think it’s true for a lot of people that all of formative music appreciation takes place from high school to college. For me, 1997-2005. I can sing the lyrics to any song I heard in that block of time as if it were yesterday. There is a deep groove in my cerebral cortex where the songs from my iPod live now. Do you remember laying on your bed and listening to a new CD? Do you remember reading the liner notes and thinking about what the lyrics really meant? Do you remember having hours upon hours available for this introspection? When is the last time you listened to a record in its entirety, without getting up to do laundry, check the CrockPot, or check Instagram? When is the last time you let an album wash over you?
So Ian and I danced and sang all night to some of our old favorites (do you sing along with Adam or Ryan when they split? All those choices I made a decade ago came back instantly). For those interested, they played “Rocketship”, “Demon”, “Fa Fa” with some adorable 19 year old Berklee horn players, “Diane”, “Amsterdam”, their cover of “Nothing But Flowers” by Talking Heads, “Barrel of a Gun”, and “Happier”. They improvised a song on the spot about aliens and the horn section naaaaaaailed it. And they also played new songs. And by “new songs” I mean stuff from after 2006, when I was a new teacher and too busy to listen to any new album on a dreamy Saturday in bed.
And so maybe it was because my brain was tingling with the memory all these great songs that I sang while painting the prop room of my high school theater with Liz Francis. Or maybe it was because I was having a fun night with my husband, who grew up in Pennsylvania loving the same music I did 500 miles away and knew every word like I did. Or maybe because my coworker and I bonded over our love of old school Guster (“should we buy tickets for tomorrow night??”), but last night was one of the best concerts of recent memory.
But don’t worry. It had its moments of suck. A tall man stood in front of me, so close that I could’ve nuzzled my head into his shoulder, or given him a really nice lower back massage.
And at the end of the night – fart smells. Why this place holds in the fart smells so intensely, we will never know. (Kristin chiming in here: “Because bros just SMELL OF FARTS!! And the HOB breeds bros from its depths, like an orc factory!)
But thanks, Guster! You woke up my high school brain last night and told it to have fun. And with the confidence of a woman in her 30s, I was able to tell the 17 year old in my head that I could dance and sing loudly and no one would mind.