I love hard rock music. The angrier the better. Bands like Godsmack, Chevelle, Systematic, Alice in Chains, Rise Against, etc. The Wife does not enjoy her music with an extra helping of anger. She likes her music (like her movies) happy. She has been a long-term fan of a band called Guster, and even though I very rarely ever listen to music that’s not rock music, you can’t help but like Guster. They’re happy. They’re catchy. They also happen to be one of the best live acts I’ve seen which would probably surprise a lot of people who know me.
South Florida rarely gets decent bands visiting. I believe the reasons are mostly geographical as bands swing down the Eastern seaboard, play a show at Orlando, then have a choice to head towards Gainesville or Tallahassee, or travel down to Miami/Fort Lauderdale. After their South Florida show, it’s five hours to Gainesville, seven to Tallahassee, or more to other destinations. This means they’ll have to take the next night off for travel which is usually not a good deal for most bands.
We also lack a good mid-size venue in South Florida for rock shows, with the only reasonable option being Revolution in Fort Lauderdale, but they haven’t done a very good job each time I’ve seen a show there. House of Blues in Orlando does a fantastic job, however. Both that location and their Chicago venue have phenomenal sound quality which leads me to think this is a chain-wide priority and if so, it’s a smart way to ensure that both fans AND bands enjoy coming. The production quality at both locations is superb and I’ve seen this happen several times watching the same band on back-to-back nights with one of them being at a House of Blues.
Anyway, seeing Guster perform at the House of Blues was an incredible treat. Each member switches instruments almost every song, rotating through lead guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, mandolin, and rhythm guitar. A trumpet makes a guest appearance, along with a harmonica. Their singer and the backing vocals are never off pitch. They don’t talk very much at all and when they do pause between their songs to say something, it’s always extremely funny. Did I mention their drummer plays a lot of their songs with just his hands? They typically make up a song just for the town they’re in that’s clearly ad-libbed and hilarious, and they usually finish with an acoustic only encore that’s performed with no amplification at all – fans sush everyone until you can hear a pin drop and then the band sings and plays with no mics, no amps, nothing.
Their songs are incredibly catchy, their live performance is unbelievably spot-on, and they’ve played for over two hours each time I’ve seen them. It’s not my style of music but Guster is certainly on my Top 5 Performing Bands list. If you can catch them at a House of Blues, even better.