Friday the 17th at UPenn — Nothing special really about this show, just your ordinary gig opening for Akon in a stadium full of drunken Ivy League kids. We spent all day hunting down a way to put an auto-tune effect on Ryan’s voice so that he could sound like T-Pain during the part of Airport Song where we distort his microphone into the Vincent Price from Thriller voice. While Akon (who I swear I’d never heard of prior to the show) apparently doesn’t use that effect as much, we thought it would be a nice way to hook in the more Top 40 oriented kids in the crowd. A way of saying “we might be a homespun rock band using organic instruments and singing earnest lyrics about interpersonal relationships, but we have a foot in the hip hop world just like you do”… when no one noticed the T-Pain effect in Airport Song, Ryan tried to connect to the crowd by doing his Revenge of the Nerds rap. Oh for two.
Thankfully we had Reverb’s environmental village set up in the quad at UPenn during the day, so I stopped by and was able to connect to the people in the afternoon. If you visit an eco-tent on this tour, be sure to find the posters of Scooter and Joe promoting recycling, before someone steals them:
I hung out next to a giant inflatable container of Soy Milk chatting with some inebriated Ivy League kids, who were tolerant everytime I said I was accepted at UPenn but chose Tufts instead. “Yeah, you already told us that, Brian.”
There was one close-talker of a guy who breathed his vodka-ass-breath on me in the form of “Bro, you gotta play Two Points for Honesty for me” over and over. His eyelids were closing while he was poking me in the chest and spilling his drink … I remember at one point, after saying it wasn’t on the set list for the 7th time, feeling like I wasn’t getting out of that conversation without getting beat up, or having close-talker-bro pass out on me. Everyone else at UPenn was super cool.
Sunday the 19th at Univ of Dayton, Ohio — This was an arena show, and a fun one. We covered a Randy Newman tune called “Dayton, Ohio 1903” for the first encore, just to say we did. We almost did that song instead of “Memo to My Son” on the Randy Newman Tribute record. At the end of “Come Downstairs & Say Hello” I kept a beat going and yelled “Kansas Sucks” enough times at the top of my lungs that Ryan had no choice but to adopt the chant and say it into his microphone. I sure hope I’m right about two assumptions:
1.) Kansas eliminated Dayton from the NCAA tournament in round 2, yes?
2.) Guster is not playing in Lawrence on this tour.
Tuesday the 20th in Fayetteville, Arkansas — Check Arkansas off the list of states in which the Gusters have performed. We still need to play South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii, and Alaska. Am I forgetting anyone? There was a cool greek-style theater in the middle of campus and we played a little bocce with Taylor from Wild Sweet Orange (our opener) before the show:
We’ve been playing extreme bocce for years now, which is sort of a combination of miniature golf, bowling, and skeet-shooting. Missing from this photo is the fire-and-brimstone preacher-man in the gray suit going on and on to no one about how we’re all fucked because we’re sinners, right there in the middle of the Arkansas campus. I’m sure his rhetoric had a little more apocalyptic flare because he saw three Jews chasing a set of bocce balls through a puddle right in front of him. This is the red state portion of the Campus Consciousness tour.
Wednesday the 21st in Austin TX — This was my favorite Austin show we’ve ever played. Stubbs is an amazing venue and we had Ben Kweller join us for “I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today” and “Say It Ain’t So” (Weezer). We covered a Weezer song!
Dave Yonkman’s been travelling with us and filmed the Austin show from the pit in front of the stage. At one point in Airport Song the people from the Hill Country Conservancy, who were putting on the show as an earth day benefit concert, dumped a bunch of plastic (compostable?) beach balls into the crowd. They got lobbed around during the outro to Airport Song and Dave swears he has footage of Ryan trying to kick a ball back into the crowd but drilling a kid in the front row instead (with a beach ball, not his foot). Footage forthcoming? D.F.?