My four year old son Nico was sitting next me on the couch when he noticed the blood blister on my palm. “Do you know what that is?” I asked.
“Is it nutella, daddy?”
I said no. It was a blood blister from hitting the drums real hard and that when you popped it, blood came out. He seemed amused but uneasy with that explanation, and followed up:
“Does it hurt, daddy?”
I said no it didn’t hurt at all, and his body language relaxed. But there was still something not quite right about it.
“Do you want to have some nutella on a banana, Nico?”
And all was well.
I haven’t had too many blood blisters to boast of since Nico was born. I don’t hit the drums quite as hard as I used to, we tour half as much as we did ten years ago, and there are sticks in the mix about half the time anyway. As we celebrate our 25th year as a band, I can actually look back at the super abusive years (1995-2003) with a slight fog, as if I can’t quite relate to the mindset of the artist who thought it was a good idea to go that hard every night.
But at the Beacon on Friday in what was our first official 25th Anniversary show, the setlist was heavy on the percussion songs, and I slipped right back into old habits — finding joy in the way a conga can sing when you play it dynamically… using my legs to push through the outro of Fa Fa when my arms and stomach muscles had reached their limit… imagining that I’m dribbling a basketball like a Harlem Globetrotter on Manifest Destiny.
It felt like a show that everyone in the room needed. We played some songs you might expect and some you wouldn’t expect. Some oldies like Mona Lisa and Parachute. The best song of the night might have been Doin’ It By Myself (from 2015’s Evermotion). We brought out a 20 person mom-and-pop choir called “The Silver Chords” comprised mostly of 50-80 year old singers from Long Island. They learned “Empire State” and “All The Way Up To Heaven” and it didn’t matter how well they sang it, because when everyone is a little emotional about the state of the world, “Empire State,” in New York City with twenty voices, hits the spot.
We inflated a giant Big Friend (the stuffed animal from the cover of Parachute) with some genuine Spinal Tap struggle. We invited Nick Klepesch, who has seen over 200 Gus/Guster shows, on stage to take our encore for us. Nicky didn’t know we were going to do that, but he had some choice words for the crowd anyway. If you enjoy frequent updates from your Facebook friends, send a request over to Nick and I’m sure he’ll be glad to chat with you.
Ryan sang a song about his “ladypants” that was not written on the setlist.
We had Joe Pisapia join us on a couple of songs and Luke Reynolds working the cue cards on “So Long,” which proved to be a nice choice for a sing-along on a night when everyone seemed in favor of a sing-along. We left the stage feeling nothing but grateful, and that is how I feel now. Thank you for this show.