Guster at Bimbo's 365, by Joshua Huver
Guster (photo: Joshua Huver)

Last week, Guster took to Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco for a triple-sell-out extravaganza that bridged the end of January into early February.

The second night of the run was marked by a high-energy crowd that only continued to grow through the third night. Guster is definitely a high-energy band that loves continues to raise the bar on themselves, and it shines through in their live performances.

The band opened with “One Man Wrecking Machine,” a staple from 2006’s Ganging Up on the Sun. “Last night was definitely more of a listening crowd,” said lead vocalist Ryan Miller after finishing the first song of the night, “One Man Wrecking Machine.”

“Tonight though, I just got hit with the feeling tonight is going to be a little more rowdy.”

Guster at Bimbo's 365, by Joshua Huver

They moved into the next song, “Terrified,” off their brand-new, 8th official release, Look Alive. According to the album’s accompanying press release, “with Look Alive the plan is simple. Grow our musical community. Write better and better songs. Keep our minds open. Never repeat ourselves and create a legacy of music that is undeniable.”

For fans that attended all three nights, a little repetition was unavoidable, despite the band’s loose and charismatic stage presence and their deep catalog. In fact, they touched on all eight albums, their EPs and B-sides, and included special guests throughout the run.

Night one seemed to play out as expected. The band was in focus, the crowd was in focus, and there weren’t any special guests, but the band managed to perform at least one song from all eight of their releases. They even obliged one fan’s request for the uncommonly performed “Happy Frappy.”

On night three, the band welcomed guests to play horns onstage, and performed more of what many would call "the hits." They also repeated the most songs on night three, selecting tracks from both the previous nights. Night two, they only repeated one song from the first night: “Happier” from Lost & Gone Forever.

After completing the first two of 18 songs for the set on Thursday, they sandwiched “Doin’ It By Myself” from 2015’s Evermotion between “Diane” and “Long Way Down.” Both tracks are from the 2003 breakout disc, Keep It Together.

“Long Way Down” was followed by “So Long” from 1999’s Lost & Gone Forever, and for both tracks, Guster was joined by a cellist and a violinist, one from Oakland and the other Berkeley. According to Miller, the band likes to use these residencies to dig deeper into their musical catalog by employing local musicians to fill in parts they usually don’t get to perform.

Guster at Bimbo's 365, by Joshua Huver

“Rise & Shine” from the 2007 Satellite EP followed, with Miller moving to the organ. One of the most entertaining thing about Guster is watching the members swap instruments and move around the stage.

They continued to break into the deeper reserves with “Rocketship” from the 1997 album Goldfly. Fun fact: The guitar riff and bongo rhythm from percussionist Brian Rosenworcel are featured samples on the hit “Pot of Gold” from The Game’s 2011 The R.E.D. Album.

Guster at Bimbo's 365, by Joshua Huver

After “Don’t Go,” Guster played the first of two Easy Wonderful tracks of the night, “Stay With Me Jesus.” “Endlessly” and “Happier” followed seamlessly before taking a pause.

“This feels like a concert,” said Miller. “We’ve been on tour for most of our lives and one of the cool things I still like is exploring the country and old friends and new guests! Like Andrew “Scooter” Laubacher. Is he here? Is he in the back even though he knew he had to be in the front?”

As “Scooter” made his way onto the drum kit, Miller went on to explain that the disco version of the “Airport Song,” which they were going to play next, became the disco version because of the way that “Scooter” played it as their former drum tech and touring drummer.

For the next five songs, Guster played one song each from their last five albums. For the songs “Either Way” from Lost & Gone Forever and “Two At A Time” from Keep It Together, the two string players returned to the stage. “Mind Kontrol” from the new album preceded 2006’s single “Manifest Destiny.”

The set ended shortly after 10:30pm with the Easy Wonderful anthem “This Could All Be Yours.” It was obvious that the crowd was not ready for the end of the set, so Miller broke the fourth wall and addressed it and eventually used the opportunity for the audience to give love to Dave from Backstage.

When Guster returned to the stage, they began with the first single from Look Alive, “Hard Times.” For the first three songs of the encore, the band stayed on the main stage. The next two tunes, the string players returned once again for “Two Points For Honesty” and “Amsterdam.”

For the fourth and final song of the encore and the 22nd song of the night, the band moved to the smaller side stage where opening act Henry Jamison and his black-clad team of turtlenecks and angst performed earlier in the night. Bringing only acoustic instruments and the violinist, they closed the show with an unplugged version of “Window” — the only track from 1998’s Parachute.

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