When the boys from Guster set up their latest tour, the list of dates read like a NCAA Tournament bracket. Saturday's show at The Rave's Eagles Ballroom was the only non-college venue on the tour and the band commented that the room "felt like the Madison Square Garden." For its part, the largely college-aged crowd made sure that every part of the venue shook as Guster played.
In a room where good sound goes to die, the crowd was electric from start to finish, reaching a fever pitch during "Fa Fa Fa" and "Careful." The energetic audience made the band feel at home, singing along with every song and peppering the stage with ping pong balls during "Airport Song."
Lead singer Ryan Miller returned the favor, ringing out "I love cheesheads," going off on a tangent about cheddarwurst and speaking of the band's affinity for Mader's.
The appearance was the band's first in Wisconsin since opening for Dave Matthews Band last year and their first Milwaukee appearance since last year's Summerfest, and this time they came armed with new music. A good deal of their 95-minute set showcased songs from their recently finished album, due out in fall.
While devoting a lot of time to songs from their two major label albums, Guster paid homage to their independent roots, opening with "Demons" from 1997's "Goldfly" and reaching back to 1994 with the title track from "Parachute."
The most impressive part of any Guster show is drummer Brian Rosenworcel, who plays mainly with his hands. His signature style was largely evident in "Center of Attention" and "Amsterdam."
The band closed with a one-song encore, asking the crowd to move forward as they came to the front of the stage to perform "Jesus on the Radio" without the use of any microphones, fitting for a band that has grown in popularity without the use of commercial radio.
The Zambonis, a Connecticut-based party band provided a cure for the NHL lockout by dressing in full hockey garb including helmets and hockey sticks, while belting out songs with the names "Hockey Monkey," "I Got a Concussion When I Fell For You" and "Guster Plays Hockey," (performed with a Guster).