A large crowd waited excitedly outside the State Theatre in the Ithaca Commons last Monday night, ignoring the constant rainfall and homework assignments that most students were probably putting off. People filed through the theatre’s doors once they opened at 7:00 p.m. as the younger crowd rushed to snatch seats front and center, leaving the older demographic with balcony seating. The State Theatre offers a comfortable ambiance welcoming children with an array of popcorn and candy of course, while also satisfying teens and young adults’ desire to join the mosh pit in front of the stage.
After several light-dimming teases, the show finally began with “Eli Paperboy Reed and The True Loves” as the opening act. The close-knit group entered with a soulful bang that the crowd couldn’t help but tap their feet to. Even though Eli Reed received a separate introduction from his band, there was obvious camaraderie among the group and an equal respect for each member’s contribution. With the ensemble of the tenor and baritone sax, trumpet, keyboard, and electric guitar, the True Loves were able to create a bluesy, gospel type rock that made the audience sway like a choir. Eli spoke like a preacher to the crowd, inviting them to join in on his heartfelt songs about gaining someone’s love and keeping the spark alive. One member in particular, the Alabama-native drummer Attis Clopton, had a constant smile throughout their entire performance. Their overall infectious love for music spread throughout the theatre and provided a perfect opening for Guster.
The True Loves were able to get the crowd going, but Guster ultimately stole the audience’s hearts. A band that began as a group of college students from Tufts University back in 1991, Guster has developed a strong, dedicated, and almost cult-like support over the past 19 years. Immediately after the opening act finished, a herd of people stampeded toward the stage to get as close to the band as possible. The State Theatre’s lack of heavy fences and busty bouncers encouraged a strong interaction between the artists and the fans. Unlike other rowdy rock concerts, Guster hypnotized and soothed the audience with its husky, “jangle-pop” tone and charismatic banter between songs. Instead of shoving one another and fighting to reach the front, everyone enjoyed the show in peaceful cohabitation that night.
Adam Gardner, Guster’s lead vocalist, had a raspy voice from a current cold, but pushed through with a stellar performance despite the illness. He even poked fun at himself by having tea delivered to him on stage. Not only did the band have an incredible stage presence, but they also established an intimate connection with the crowd. While other artists try force audience interaction, Guster embraced their hour and a half with the audience, making them feel like a part of their jam session of self-discovery. The night was a success for everyone…well, except for the couple that missed the encore after getting busted for having sex in the bathroom.