Every summer, we go to a concert or two up at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). We already had lawn seats for Springsteen, and last week, we had indoor seats for Guster and Ray Lamontagne. We ended up not using the actual seats, thanks to some exceptionally drunk college girls in the row behind us ("Do you need to throw up again?" is not a question you want to hear asked of the person seated immediately behind you), but we had good weather, and it was a pleasant evening sitting on the steps of the pavillion.
Musically, there's not a whole lot to say about the show. If you've heard their albums, well, they sound pretty much like that. They didn't dramatically re-invent the songs, or play any covers that I recognized as covers. Which is fine, because I like their stuff, and they played it well.
Miscellaneous other commentary after the cut.
- I do have to say, they may be the first band I've seen where the drummer was the clear fan favorite. He got a big ovation every time he did anything remotely interesting. Perhaps this is because he's the least schlubby looking member of the band, though it's hard to find pictures of them that weren't taken with cell phones.
- Of course, I do have to give him credit for mostly drumming with his hands. He used sticks and a regular drum set for a few songs, but mostly banged on miscellaneous bongos and congas and cymbals bare-handed. That's kind of cool.
- They have some seriously intense fans. Relatively few of them are able to legally buy liquor, but they're really, really into Guster.
- Speaking of liquor purchases, SPAC sells beer only at a poorly-labelled "Beer Garden" tend back behind the main concession area. I knew this from previous visits, and paid them a visit soon after getting through the gates. I was then asked no fewer than four times "Hey, buddy, where did you get the beer?" Apparently, I look like a helpful and approachable guy.
- Somewhat incongruous note: The Marines had a recruiting tent set up, and appeared to be running a pull-up contest for frat boys. I'm not sure what they were offering as prizes, but it doesn't take a lot to get frat boys to do pull-ups. They were sandwiched between a couple of different environmental activist groups.
- Incongruous note 2: There was also a big display from a local Jeep dealer, with four sample vehicles out for people to look at, none of which got more than 20mpg. This, at a concert for a band who promote environmental causes...
- As always, it was interesting to note the difference between the opening act and the headliner, in terms of comfort level with the crowd. Ray LaMontagne, who opened, did a nice blues-folk sort of set, and has a great voice for that sort of thing. He said essentially nothing to the crowd, though-- he didn't name songs, he didn't introduce the band, he didn't make the obligatory play for cheap applause by naming the venue. Nothing.
- Guster's front man, on the other hand, filled the spaces between songs with a stream of patter. Fairly dorky patter, to be sure, but he was reasonably amusing, and the crowd ate it up. Showmanship, people, it's all about showmanship...
- One final dyspeptic note on the drunk college girls: They were really, really drunk. Shots-in-the-parking-lot drunk, and at least one of them wasn't going to remember the show at all, other than maybe the bit where she threw up during Ray LaMontagne's set, and then got all weepy and apologetic. I've never understood this, even when I was a drunk college student, I had no interest in getting totally fucked up at a rock concert. I mean, what's the point of spending all that money on tickets, and then being too hammered to remember what the band sounded like?
Anyway, it was a good show, and a nice evening out. It sort of wrecked me for work on Friday, but I got some writing done on my tenure statements, so it's all good...
(I guess this is a Clifford Johnson Tribute Day-- not really his kind of band, but I've posted about riding my bike, and now a concert review. If I take my camera to the Co-Op to buy vegetables, I can hit the trifecta...)