Guster 'nother night at Summerfest

I closed out my tour of Summerfest ’09 tonight, and I’m thinking I made the right decision by going to see Guster ...

Best. Guster show. yet.

Rather than fill their set with unfamiliar songs from their upcoming album, the Guster boys loaded the show with old tunes and fan favorites. A fun-loving crowd exploded in cheers at the opening of every song, danced on the benches and drowned out the band at times with their singing.

And Brian Rosenworcel – wow. The guy went so freakishly wild on his drum kit and bongos tonight, I was surprised we didn’t see parts of his fingers flying into the crowd. Check out this clip from Guster's performance of “Come Downstairs And Say Hello,” which unfortunately doesn't do it justice ...

I arrived at the grounds in time to catch the last few songs of Mt. Olive’s set, which proved to be a perfect warm-up for the night. They provided my cover band fix for this year's Summerfest and I got to hear crowd-raising renditions of “Blister in the Sun,” “Closer to Free” and, best of all, “Sweet Caroline.”

Also, I'm submitting my nomination for Most Amusing Summerfest Dancer '09. I saw this guy and it brought back visions of the guy I saw last year, who, by the way, I spotted at one point tonight ...

Chester French followed Mt. Olive, and while there appeared to be a handful of fans in the crowd wearing T-shirts and singing to their songs, most people hardly seemed pleased with their act. The band was fronted by some smart allecky kid with curly carrot-top hair and wearing a pink suit coat; he was loud, obnoxious and their lyrics were barely coherent … When the front man interrupted their last song to ask the crowd how many people thought they should be a headliner at next year’s Summerfest, I rolled my eyes and gladly remained silent with my arms folded. I couldn’t help noticing the guys next to me doing the same. Then, when the last notes finally played out I caught the girl in front of me wiping her forehead and mouthing the words, “It’s about time.”

Wild Sweet Orange, the final band to play before Guster, was a much more crowd-pleasing and appropriate choice as a lead-in for Guster. Interestingly, it was the second time I’d seen Wild Sweet Orange, having seen them with Counting Crows last year. Tonight, they were even more fantastic and entertaining than I remembered … Check ‘em out.

Guster wasted no time appeasing fans with “The Captain” and “One Man Wrecking Machine.” Then turned the crowd's energy up another notch by capping “Red Oyster Cult” with the infamous cowbell and harmony riff of Blue Oyster Cult's “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.”

In one of the other great highlights of the night, lead singer Adam Gardner noted how many music options Summerfest goers had to choose from and thanked the crowd for choosing to spend the night with them. Then, as a way of saying thanks, Gardner said, the band wanted to present the crowd with some of “the best of Summerfest,” and they proceeded to reel off a rockin' medley that included Whitesnake's “Here I Go Again,” No Doubt's “Don't Speak,” Kiss's “Rock 'n' Roll All Night” and a Matisyahu song on which Gardner jumbled some Hebrew lyrics.

The band had played so many of their best and most memorable songs that by the time they started in on “Satellite” for their encore, I thought for a moment, Didn't they play this one already? ... The only song I really missed hearing was “Careful.”

Guster didn't throw out a new song -- which is called something like "Swallowed Me Whole" -- until their second-to-last number of the night. To introduce it, Gardner apologized to the crowd for missing Summerfest last year and reasoned the band had to take some time off to "have sex with their wives and have babies."

Whatever works. Here's hoping they're back again next year.

Here's Guster's set list ... Links go to videos I shot of the performances.

1. “The Captain
2. “One Man Wrecking Machine”
3. “Red Oyster Cult” / “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
4. “Demons”
5. “Center of Attention”
6. “Hang On”
7. “Come Downstairs And Say Hello”
8. “G Major”
9. “Barrel of a Gun”
10. “Ruby Falls
11. “C’mon”
12. “Best of Summerfest Medley”
13. “Manifest Destiny
14. “Airport Song” (I should note, the crowd tossed ping pong balls onto the stage during this one and it was perhaps Rosenworcel's most entertaining work of the night.)
15. “Amsterdam”
16. “Fa Fa”

1. “Satellite”
2. (New song)
3. “Happier”

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