Denver turned out in great numbers for the Guster at Paramount Theatre show Saturday, February 6, 2016. By the time Guster started playing, it was a completely packed house. So packed that we even lost our original seats. The music was too chill for me to care. It was a night of epic musicianship and stoners (we’ll talk about that more later). Vetiver opened the show for Guster.
We were lucky enough to get photo passes to the show on behalf of Guster’s management, Nettwerk Music Group. My thanks go out to Dan, Dalton, and Noah for hooking us up! I had a good friend and photographer with me, Collin O’Malley of Stratos Images, at the show to cover a few different angles. Photographers don’t have the convenience of a photo pit at Paramount, so I was glad to have two of us. I think we got some great pictures, but let’s start with my review of show.
Vetiver at Paramount Theatre
I don’t spend a lot of my time listening to folk music, but I was pleasantly surprised with the musicianship of Vetiver. I couldn’t find an explanation of the band name anywhere online, but one might infer its origins with the knowledge that it’s a type of grass. Their live sound was definitely the type of sound that I’d toss on my record player any time I wanted to just chill. It’s nothing overly fancy: just guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. The frontman had a great voice that never wavered. I had spent a little time listening to Vetiver’s most popular tracks on Spotify ahead of the show. I always like to familiarize myself with the opening bands before the show. Strangely, it sounded like a completely different band to me. Their studio music has electronic and atmospheric elements to it that seemed completely absent at the live show. I’d almost consider the set “unplugged” or “acoustic” and not a representation of the music you’d buy online. That makes my job a bit difficult. I’ll still recommend that you check out their music on Spotify. Buy it if you like it, but my live experience may not match your live experience at their next show. That’s not a bad thing, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just something I noticed.
After spending some time researching Vetiver, I found that the band is the creative outlet of Andy Cabic. Andy is Vetiver’s lead singer and the only permanent member of the band. He brings in other musicians to play with him at any given time. Naturally, that would result in some inconsistencies in their sound. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the music they created on Saturday night. My only criticism was a general lack of energy. There was a tremendous difference in the stage presence between Vetiver and Guster. Granted, Guster’s music is significantly more high-energy. I’d like to see Vetiver reach out more to the audience so their chillaxing music doesn’t disengage the crowd entirely. Overall, they played a great set. I hope the audience thought so too.
Pictures of Vetiver at Paramount Theatre
Guster at Paramount Theatre
As I expected, Guster was epic. I can’t think of many bands that could unite the crowd like Guster at Paramount Theatre. It’s a big venue, has reserved seating, and no room for dancing. Yet, people still got up and danced in the aisles during the show. Everyone was bobbing, gyrating, or grooving in one way or another. Besides a few people who had a bit too much to drink (or inhale), everyone in the room was up on their feet and singing along with the band. It was a tremendous feeling to absorb the energy in the room. Guster and the audience fed each other bursts of euphoria throughout the show.
After shooting the first three songs, my friend and I were hanging out right behind the soundboard. I metaphorically fell in love with Guster’s sound engineer. It could’ve been the occasional whiff of vetiver or what I was drinking, but I found myself admiring the perfectly-mixed, auditory stimuli. Nothing was out of balance. I’m still enjoying the thought two days later.
Ryan, Brian, Adam, and Luke were all spot on during the whole performance. It seems like, at any given time, any one of the band members could play any part. I think I even saw Brian playing the piano at one point. Crazy. True musicians. I would have so much fun just sitting in on a jam session with these guys. I just hope I’d be able to keep up. Musically, it wasn’t something I needed to analyze. If there were mistakes, I was too entranced by the experience to care. The horn section absolutely nailed everything. Kishi Bashi even came out on stage to absolutely shred the violin parts. True to form, Guster exists to provide an awesome musical experience for their fans.
One of the most interesting bits of the show could’ve been one of the most dreadful. Yes, I live in Colorado. Yes, I’m tired of bands talking about how cool it is we have legal weed in Colorado. We live here; we know. Thankfully, Guster understands our predicament; they were totally cool about it. Instead of making fun of us, they had fun with some stoners. They asked the audience who was “9 out of 10 high.” A few people raised their hands and quickly dropped them, but two stoners held up their hands with pride and made sure to grab the band’s attention. Guster invited them on stage to play percussion as Ryan sang a song about being “9 out of 10 high.” It was fun, jam-band tune with no purpose but to exploit a couple stoners for cheap laughs. Ryan even said that it went much better than he expected. I’d agree.
There are only a few dates left in Guster’s Winter Tour, so make sure you get to one of them. Check out the dates here. Phoenix, AZ, is the next stop. Put down the computer and go see the show. You won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, check them out on Spotify to give them a small bit of green every time you listen. I’d also like to mention the band’s desire to improve our environment. It’s something I feel we should all recognize as an area for improvement. If you’d like to learn more about their green initiatives, check out REVERB.
Pictures of Guster at Paramount Theatre
Extra Pictures from Guster at Paramount Theatre
We always shoot some extra pictures of the venue, gear, and other cool things. Here are the extras from the Guster show.
9 Out of 10 High Guy
We were lucky enough to get in touch with the 9 out of 10 high guy, Jerred Stoll (check him out on Twitter). The dude’s a legend in Denver now. He shared the picture below with us. It was taken by his friend from the stage during the 9 out of 10 high song. Jerred had this to say about his experience at the show:
“I have been a huge Guster fan since the early 2000’s and have seen them live 8 or 9 times. Most of you know me as one of the 9/10 high guys from the most recent show at the Paramount in Denver. I’d definitely had a few drinks and possibly a smoke or two when Ryan asked who was high in the crowd, to which I of course raised my hand. Who am I to hide it? It is Colorado after all. My friend and I ran up to the stage and to be honest it was all a bit of a blur from there, for reasons beyond the booze and herb. As such a huge fan, and a musician, I was excited and nervous to share a stage with one of my favorite bands. I remember feeling quite lucky to take my place behind Brian’s iconic hand drums. I could not hear a single thing on stage but my musical instincts took over and all I could do is hope that it sounded ok. Overall, it was a moment that is definitely a blur in my memory, but it is one I will never forget or some others that happened because of it. I posed for photos with people in front of the venue after the show, and spoke with Brian Rosenworcel about his use of our onstage picture for Guster’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, which I’m sure many of you saw. Again, that was a great night with many great memories, and as with every Guster show, I have walked away with some new friends to include in my Guster and musical family.”