Monthly Archives: January 2013

Bloomington (Indiana)

I remember seeing this tweet from Ryan at some point on Monday…

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Then I went to Google Maps and did the math  — we had a 9pm show in Bloomington Indiana that night, it was 5:30, and he was 3 hours and 45 minutes away in Bloomington Illinois.  If he’d already rented a car and hit the road he’d be okay.  Otherwise we’d have to hold the show for him.  Either way, he’s a jackass.

So as Ryan traveled via economy-sized Hyundai from one Bloomington to another, we planned his entrance for him, and executed it perfectly:

Knowing many people at the show had already seen his tweet and might be wondering if he’d make it at all, we took the stage as a trio — me, Luke, and Adam.  I explained the situation to the crowd, the airport mix up, the rental car, the fact that we hadn’t heard from him in an hour — and I pitched our solution:

We’d make the best of it and just play the blues until he got there.

Then we launched into some really generic blues, with Luke singing “The thrill is gone… the thrill is gone away….” and Adam solo-ing on acoustic guitar, in that exaggerated Adam way.  Some people laughed uncomfortably in the crowd.  Some people yelled “woo” and tried to encourage us.  But mostly people were wondering how long we would really do the blues thing, because honestly, it was unbearably bad.  There are bands that can get away with playing blues in a situation like that, but Guster is not one of them.  If we are playing the blues, it is because we are making a joke. 

And after a couple minutes of making them sweat, Ryan burst into the theater dragging a rolling bag, with his parka on, yelling “make it stop!” and then he picked up his guitar and we launched into “This Could All Be Yours” while the crowd went nuts, mainly in a “sigh-of-relief” kind of way. 

 

Someone took a picture of Ryan’s luggage on stage:

 

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Thanks @alcberry.  For letting me rob your Twitter. 

 

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Georgia Is for Lovers

The morning after our first Atlanta show I found myself in the quaint mountain town of Dahlonega GA, which is only about an hour from downtown Atlanta (six hours with traffic).  Home to North Georgia College and State University, the town is best known for having had gold in its river back in the day.  Until now.

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I walked into “Heartbreaker Vintage & Vinyl” on South Chestatee Street and found this classic Guster Is for Lovers t-shirt on the rack for 8 dollars.  This shirt is like, circa 1999 — why it was on the rack at an obscure store in Dahlonega I will never know.  And the charismatic store owner, Carl, who used to play in Dread Zeppelin, didn’t know either.  But when you go out to Dahlonega to buy the shirt, you will be asked to pose for a picture with Carl, like I did, so that we can post your photo here and make the circle complete.  8 dollars.  Maybe pay a visit to the historic diving bell in Hancock Park while you’re there.

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Meanwhile, at the Variety Playhouse, light-years-with-traffic away in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta, even stranger things were about to go down.  Ryan was reading audience tweets live on stage, filtering out the crappy requests, when he decided to take pity on a guy named Kyle Johnson who tweeted that the general admission situation was annoying, and he’d have shown up earlier to get a good seat if he’d know the deal.

Ryan offered the embittered Mr. Johnson a chance to make a request, inviting him to do so from a better vantage point.  Kyle Johnson meandered down from the back of the balcony where he was stuck, miles from the stage, and sat next to Ryan.  He requested “Rocketship” — and if he’d been paying attention to set lists, he’d have know that’s a nightly staple in the acoustic set, and he could have gotten more for his money by requesting a different song, especially from out in the nether regions of the balcony where you can’t see a damn thing.

Kyle was asked to sit on the piano bench where he’d have a front row seat for the Rocketship performance.  He was a nice guy, earnest and humbled to be on stage getting this kind of attention during a show.  He mouthed the words of the first verse.  All was going well.  After the first chorus when the verse chords came back around Ryan said “piano solo!” — it’s an easy gag, the special guest nervously tinkles a few out off key notes on the ivory, and if our sound guy does the right thing and cranks the piano in the house, his incompetent “solo” gets easy laughs.

But that’s when things got weird.  Kyle played a perfect chord, then another, and then started jamming on the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.  This guy was not only musical, he had been playing piano for 24 years and *ripped it up* on Rocketship.  I know everyone in the crowd thought the entire interaction was a set-up, probably because we stage this exact sort of thing a lot.  But this one was real.  We couldn’t believe what we were hearing.  This young, raging, tweeting Kyle Johnson guy took all his frustration with the Variety Playhouse’s seating policy out on the piano, going berserk during the outro to Rocketship and walking off stage to a standing ovation.  Had we not said “piano solo” he may never have revealed that he was a piano prodigy and happened to be sitting in front of his instrument.

Here is Kyle late night at the Yacht Club, drunk on glory.  And beer:

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And here is me after we ripped the sleeves off of my hoodie to make it into a sweatshirt-vest.  Sober:

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Everything Is Big in Texas

Big cars!  Big slices of white bread with your bbq!  Big 116 ounce sodas at gas stations!  Even the cross that hangs over the church pulpit where a band of Jews are performing songs about Jesus is big. 

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Sarcastic songs about Jesus.  Or are they?  It was nice to play a couple of shows in Texas where the audiences were dead silent and we could air out the set list (Two at a Time, Long Way Down, Empire State, Rainy Day, Rocketship, That’s No Way to Get to Heaven, etc)… never have consecutive audiences been treated to such a vast sampling of our slower, more depressing material! 

 

But what a great experience we had in Texas this week (all we have to do is skip Houston and Texas is GREAT to us) — the Dallas Symphony Orchestra show was a career highlight, we were all very focused and relaxed on stage, despite the fact that we had just one hasty rehearsal two days before the show.

 

And in Austin we played in a Presbyterian church.  We encored in the balcony.  The people in the first pew were closer to my ride cymbal than I was.  We sang “Amen” going from the four chord to the one chord after every song, way past the point where the joke was funny, on through the realm where it was mildly amusing sheerly for its persistence, and into the realm where it was unbelievably annoying and if they sing “Amen” after the next song we might as well just get up and leave.

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