There was a nervous buzz in the station when I arrived, and understandably so–that’s what happens when you’re hosting a band who just had a day named after them by Mayor Walsh. It was Guster Day at the station, and soon to be Guster Day for the entire city of Boston. The band was already in the studio, starting to set up their gear. Their clothes were so hip and their attitudes so relaxed that they could have easily been Emerson students hanging out in Ansin, instead of the internationally successful band they are.
Guster got their start in 1991 at Tufts University, recording their first album while still in college. They spent several years touring college towns and built a significant following amongst their college-aged peers. The band established a reputation for humor and quirkiness early on, releasing several independent albums including Parachute in 1994 and Goldfly in 1996. Shortly after, they signed a contract with Sire Records, who re-released Goldfly. Over the next twenty years, Guster released six studio albums, with 2015’s Evermotion being big number seven.
Throughout the lengthy setup and soundcheck process, the WERS staff was treated to Guster’s famed sense of humor. We’re talking about a band that released an entire mix of an album in which the vocals were replaced with cat meows–nothing is too weird for these guys. Ridiculous accents were thrown around, jokes poking fun at the engineers and host; no one was safe from their witty banter, the kind that could only come with years of working together.
Following the off-air comedy act was the music, consisting of selections from their then-unreleased album Evermotion. The new album is clearly the band’s way of saying “and now for something completely different,” as it serves as a reminder that Guster has indeed grown up from the 90’s college rock sound that they once possessed.
One of the most notable songs in their set was “Simple Machine,” whose catchy drum beat and synthy bridge will fit in well with current alternative music. The smooth acoustic intro of “Gangway” was more reminiscent of the Guster of years past, with softer harmonies and a hint of melancholy. Their insistence on proving that they have an ever-evolving sound came in the notable lack of classic hits like “Satellite” and “One Man Wrecking Machine,” the throwback they featured was 2010’s “Do You Love Me.”
It is certainly commendable to see that a band with a history as rich as Guster’s continuously evolving, instead of stubbornly refusing to change a classic, but relatively outdated sound. The full studio was far from disappointed with the Boston heavyweight’s performance, and it’s not a stretch to speculate that they probably gained a few new fans on Guster Day.