Guster is no stranger to Summerfest. In fact, as they noted in their 90-minute set Thursday night, this was their 10th appearance at the Big Gig.
Guster isn’t the world’s most exciting band, but they do their thing well – and have for two decades now. (I realized last night that it was 10 years ago I saw them live for the first time.) That sort of longevity, without imploding or fading away, should be applauded.
The Summerfest set was a midsection of the band’s albums, from 1995’s Parachute to 2010’s Easy Wonderful. Even at a music festival where so many of the audience members are just casual passersby with nothing better to do, Guster’s “Airport” managed to garner a respectable number of ping pong balls, as is tradition. That’s dedication.
At one moment, the band segued into a “Chariots of Fire” cover – which they do a lot. The joke was made that they should cover a Katy Perry song to “connect with the youngsters.” And there were a lot of youngsters crowding the Briggs and Stratton stage for their set, which, considering the band’s age and style, was surprising.
And that wouldn’t be the last Katy Perry reference. After the band closed out the encore with “Airport,” a familiar tune came across the keytar. (Yes, keytar.) “We’ve never played this song before, and we’ll never play it again. True story.”
Brian Rosenworcel emerged from behind the drums to take the microphone. (“I’m not supposed to sing. Ever,” he told me in an interview last year.)
“Do you ever feel…”
Yes, the band closed out with a rather awful – though thoroughly entertaining – cover of Perry’s “Firework.” Fitting for a July 4th set.
Guster’s a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. And that has served them well. Even after the fame of 2003’s “Amsterdam” threatened to turn them into one hit wonder, the band has come back time and again with great releases and great live show. Here’s to year 11.