Monthly Archives: August 2013

Guster

Saturday, August 10, 2013

L.L.Bean, Freeport, Maine

I hadn’t seen Guster in ages, and I’d missed seeing them live. They really know how to entertain. My favorite Guster memory is when they came to play at Bowdoin in 2000. My roommate chaired the Campus Activities Board, so my job was to “keep Guster happy” for the day leading up to their show. I ordered their lunches, helped them navigate campus, taught Adam the home keys on the computer keyboard, and took Brian to try to find a place on campus where we could plug in his Ethernet cord (there was a time before WiFi!) so he could upload the famous guslog. I had a great day with them, and the show that night was glorious and fun as always. I just looked back through my past concerts, and somehow hadn’t seen the guys play live since 2009 on the pier in Portland. Really?! That was forever ago! They haven’t toured quite as much in the last few years, though, since they are all grown up now and having kids and spending some time off the road.

The last time I went to a concert at L.L.Bean was September of 2010. Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that it’s a kind service they provide to bring great musicians to Freeport, but I believe they’ve outgrown their space and going to shows there (yes, even though they are free) is stressful. There’s just not enough room to accommodate national acts in that small space. The last time I was there, I showed up at noon for a 7:30 show with my blanket, picnic lunch, and a book to pass my time, and I was at least twenty rows back from the stage without another person in sight. Since proximity to the stage is very important to me (I am partially blind in my right eye, if that helps), I’d decided after that to pass on the L.L.Bean summer concerts. I’d rather pay money to get to a venue before doors open to earn a spot up front where I can see. I understand that’s probably just my set of priorities, but I can live with it. My dear friend Andrea convinced me to go to the Guster show only because she offered to drive to Freeport from Gardiner as soon as she woke up (and she’s a morning person) to set up chairs for us for the show later that night. Even though she got there at 7:30 in the morning, our seats were still seven rows back pretty far from the stage. We learned later from Ryan that people can start setting up chairs at midnight. I thought it was 6AM. Lesson learned. It’s probably not a lesson I’ll need in the future, though. Unless one of you wants to set up a chair for me at midnight!

Saturday was a truly marvelous day. I had breakfast at Water Street Café with Andrea and Ryan and then Andrea and I picked up our friend Kelly in Brunswick and headed over to Popham Beach for a perfect beach day. Our friend Shaun was there with a bunch of college classmates who I hadn’t seen in ages. Kelly, Andrea, and I immediately spent about 45 minutes in the water jumping big waves. It got a lot more fun after our bodies went numb from the cold water.

Perfect beach day at Popham

Perfect beach day at Popham

Andrea and I dropped Kelly off and took the back roads to Freeport. I’d met up with my best friend there on Tuesday and had spent an HOUR looking for parking, so I was relieved when I pulled into a lot and found a spot immediately. Andrea and I had a delicious dinner at Mediterranean Grill. Three of my students from last year—Alec, Elliot, and Sam (who are all characters and sat next to each other in my very spirited class)—saw us and ended up sitting down with us while we ate dinner. It was great to catch up with them and actually made me look forward to going back to school in a couple of weeks.

We parted ways after dinner , and Andrea and I went to meet her sister Becca and her niece Aurea. Becca brought her boyfriend’s 10-week-old black lab puppy!!!!! That deserves SO MANY exclamation marks! Ace is a doll. I got to hold him while they went into Coffee By Design, and I wish I had been wearing a camera to capture the happy reactions of the people who passed by us. People just lit up and some asked to pet Ace and then told me stories of their dogs, past and present. I totally get why therapy dogs exist! It made my day! And it tuckered Ace out. When we got to our seats that Andrea had lovingly set up for us, I put Ace in my lap and he promptly fell fast asleep. Getting to see Guster (well, until the people in the very front row stood up and I couldn’t really see them anymore) with a tired puppy on my lap was pure joy. Prepare to be inundated with puppy pictures!

Ace! Look at that face!

Ace! Look at that face!

It's easy to love that little guy! It's mutual!

It’s easy to love that little guy! It’s mutual!

Thanks so much for bringing Ace, Becca!!

Thanks so much for bringing Ace, Becca!!

Auntie Andrea and Aurea

Auntie Andrea and Aurea

What a cutie!

What a cutie!

Aurea, Andrea, and Brian from Guster

Aurea, Andrea, and Brian from Guster

A sleeping puppy on my lap during a Guster show: priceless!

A sleeping puppy on my lap during a Guster show: priceless!

Guster has been together for over twenty years, and they are great live. I was surprised when I counted up that this was somehow only my eighth Guster show, because they are always such fun to see and I’m a fan. Ryan takes the lead on banter, and he kept us laughing all night long. I was happy to hear a mix of their music from over the years, and as I’m especially drawn to their older albums, was very happy to hear classics like “What You Wish For,” “Happier,” “Demons,” and “Barrel of a Gun.” Someone kindly put Guster’s setlist for the night on setlist.fm.

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Ryan told us how weird it was for them to be playing for a seated audience, encouraged dancing, and also gave a few shout outs to the folks who’d come out at midnight to set up their chairs for the show. A guy made his way through the front of the crowd early in the set and Ryan called him out and joked a little with him about how he must know someone who works at L.L.Bean to get a seat like that (and called him the 1%). Ryan also worked to remember that there were a lot of kids in the audience, so had to do some quick editing on stage. I thought it was sweet when he pointed out the sign language interpreter and joked that it was too much power for him to have a microphone and a human puppet. He asked her name and then asked if she had to sign everything he said. When Meryl nodded yes, Ryan said “I’m Meryl and I’m awesome and deserve a raise!” It was very cute.

Guster!

Guster!

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Alec, Elliot, and Sam swung by to see if there was room near us (lucky them, there was a little) and joined us for the rest of the show. Alec and Elliot are far more proficient with my fancy camera, so they took the majority of the pictures during the show. Guster wrapped their set with “This Could All Be Yours.” Ryan said they’d go off stage and ponder an encore after that and would be right back. They came back to the stage and played “Hang On.” Ryan told us they like to unplug and play a final song as they wander through the crowd, so they said goodnight and took to the crowd playing “Jesus on the Radio.” He said they’d play it Pied Piper style, which might not work, but “I’m 40 and can do whatever I want.” I’m not sure how many people could hear the last song (I couldn’t), so the crowd started to clear out really quickly. The boys even carried our chairs back to my car for us. Thanks, Guys!

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So happy to see Sam, Elliot, and Alec at the show!

So happy to see Sam, Elliot, and Alec at the show!

Guster is recording an album in the next couple of months and I look forward to buying a ticket to see them play from the front few rows at an indoor venue soon!

xo,

bree

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Jimmy Eat World with Royal Bangs

Sunday, August 4, 2013

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to Portland for this show, but when my best friend called and said she needed me to pick her up at the bus station at midnight, I figured I’d make it happen. I’m really glad I did! Jimmy Eat World puts on a great show. I was happy to see what 20 years of being a band can do for a group’s stage presence and for the crowd’s engagement with the music. It was a good night.

I picked up my press pass and ticket from the ticket booth at The State Theatre (thanks, Chris and Big Hassle Media!) and ran into Zachary immediately. He graduated from Mt. Ararat in 2012. I was his class advisor for four years and am still close with a lot of people from his class. He took me down to the sixth row center where he, Nathan, Evan, Alden, and Nick were listening to the opening band, Royal Bangs. It was great to see all of them. Zachary, Nathan, Evan, and I went on an amazing senior trip to Eastern Europe in 2012, and talked about how much we’d all like to go back. If you’ve never been to Prague or Budapest, put it on your life list.

Nathan and Zachary!

Nathan and Zachary!

I liked Knoxville, Tennessee’s Royal Bangs. Their alt rock sound was polished, and I liked the predominance of keys in their music. They didn’t say a whole lot to the crowd, but were friendly and brought good energy. The drummer’s facial expressions were particularly fun to watch. Check out their videos for “Better Run” and “Fireball.”

Royal Bangs

Royal Bangs

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I thoroughly enjoyed watching drummer Chris Rusk's face while he worked!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching drummer Chris Rusk’s face while he worked!

I got a chance to talk with some of the people standing around me during the break between sets. I met a trio of nice guys who’d come up for the show from Connecticut, including Nick from New Hampshire who was busy befriending all of the ladies around us (well done, Nick!). I shouldn’t have thought to myself—“what nice people I’m surrounded by!”—because I totally jinxed it. Later in the night a couple with little body awareness or self control stumbled upon our neck of the woods and invaded our personal space and kept hitting us and my fancy camera. I can usually fix that kind of behavior with a little firm negotiation, but they were truly defiant and obnoxious. They even saw me on the way out and gave me a hard time about me trying to get them to lay off earlier. Ugh. Concert etiquette tip—don’t be an @ss&ole. Keep your hands to yourself. It’s something most of us got in Kindergarten.

Mesa, Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World took the stage promptly at 9 and I made my way to the front (in front of the barricade) to take pictures for the first three songs. The crowd against the barricade was super into the music and sang all the words. Jimmy Eat World sounded tight. They haven’t lost anything by not having toured much in the last few years. A fellow concert goer posted Jimmy Eat World’s set list on setlist.fm:

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Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World

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Jimmy Eat World bassist Rick Burch

Jimmy Eat World bassist Rick Burch

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Zachary and I were so happy to hear “Hear You Me” early in their set. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs of all time—from Jimmy Eat World’s 2001 Bleed American album. Lead singer Jim Adkins told us that not only have they just released a new album, Damage, but also have a new EP out as well. He said the creative juices have really been flowing and they have been keeping very busy. Their iTunes Session is available here on iTunes and includes a cover of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” that they played for us live as well. I was amused because we all knew the words to that song, too. It’s a guilty pleasure. I use that song to explain the breakup between the American colonists and the UK in the Declaration of Independence to my 9th graders. It makes perfect sense, right?!

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Jimmy Eat World guitarist Tom Linton

Jimmy Eat World guitarist Tom Linton

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I thoroughly felt my age when a legit mosh pit broke out in front of me during “A Praise Chorus.” I took my fancy camera, glasses, and nice teeth back a couple of sections to join the old people and preserve myself. Crowd surfing commenced soon afterward. Am I getting old, or have I just become more accustomed to folk shows?IMG_2851 IMG_2865 IMG_2931

Jim didn’t banter a ton with the crowd throughout the show, but our familiarity with the songs really bonded the audience and made for a special night. When Jimmy Eat World left the stage, the crowd really rallied for an encore. I was elated to hear “23” (which I’ve loved since before I was 23) live. It’s another one of my favorite songs. “Big Casino” sounded great and amped the audience. Jim took a moment to tell us that they don’t take it lightly and really appreciate us coming out to support the band. He said it’s a huge compliment that we find parts of their songs to make our own. They wrapped the night with “The Middle,” which is probably their best-known song. The State Theatre was already hot and sweaty, but this song turned it into a sauna. Everyone danced. It was a great end to a great night. Jim even came over the barricade to give high fives to the very enthusiastic crowd (including a very happy Zachary—see the photo).

Zachary and Nick are happy campers post-show!

Zachary and Nick are happy campers post-show!

Me and the boys! Evan, me, Zachary, Nick, Alden, and Nathan.

Me and the boys! Evan, me, Zachary, Nick, Alden, and Nathan.

That hand touched Jim Adkins!

That hand touched Jim Adkins!

The boys! Evan, Zachary, Alden, Nick, Nathan, and David. So glad I ran into them!

The boys! Evan, Zachary, Alden, Nick, Nathan, and David. So glad I ran into them!

So glad I made it out to this show.

xo,

bree

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