Last Sunday I went to see Guster and Jack’s Mannequin in Columbus. Here’s the thing about Guster: if you don’t like them, you’re trying way too hard to be a hardass and you need to just chill out.
Guster is one of the easiest bands to listen to, and I was really impressed with how good they were live. It was by far the best concert I’ve seen so far this year, with Death Cab For Cutie and Frightened Rabbit taking a close second. The show was going to be outdoors at the LC Pavilion, but it was supposed to storm that night so luckily it got moved indoors. I don’t think I’ve been to an indoor concert at the LC since I was in high school, and it really makes such a difference when all the concert energy is contained in a small space like that.
Jack’s Mannequin played the one song that I know of theirs, and when I figured out their connection to Something Corporate, I was disappointed that they didn’t play “Konstantine,” which is a song I loved in high school and haven’t listened to in years, but I’m sure would be amazing to see live. Jack’s Mannequin were great even though I wasn’t really familiar with the songs they played. Their music is the kind that makes you feel young again: polished, catchy, and heartfelt. You usually can’t go wrong with that.
For their last song, they invited Guster on stage to play with them, which is something I wish more bands would do when they tour together. It’s such an awesome gesture of respect, and it’s so much fun for all the fans when they’re presented with a unique rendition of a song that they wouldn’t be able to experience anywhere else.
By the time Jack’s Mannequin left the stage I was getting really pumped up to see Guster. I’ve wanted to see them the past two times they’ve come to Columbus, so I’m glad I finally went this time.
The vocals were flawless, and you could tell everyone in the band was so in synch with each other. And between the ukulele, banjo, harmonica, trumpet, congas, and WHISTLING, I was getting giddy over how well they incorporated it all into the live performance. I don’t know who that guy is who whistles for the band, but he is a badass.
They played pretty much every song I wanted to hear of theirs, and seeing them live really made me appreciate their latest album a lot more. I had pretty lukewarm feelings about Easy Wonderful– I bought it when it first came out, and overall I was disappointed with it. But hearing them play songs like “Do You Love Me,” “This Could All Be Yours,” and “What You Call Love” with such infectious energy really made me realize how much the songs had seeped into my head without me even realizing it. I didn’t know I even knew the words to those songs, but I found myself belting them out with a huge shit-eating grin on my face.
One of the best things about the concert experience was that we managed to get down on the floor, front and center with a perfect view of the stage, and we somehow ended up behind the two DRUNKEST people at the entire concert, who were DANCING their lives away and rocking the fuck out to every single song they played. It was pretty hilarious, honestly. A little annoying at times, but mostly it made me happy to see them getting so into the music and enjoying themselves as much as they clearly were.
They played two of my favorite songs- “On the Ocean,” which was immediately my favorite from Easy Wonderful, and “Happier,” which is a song I loved so hard in high school that I had to put it away for a while and I kind of forgot it existed. I remember when I was a junior in high school my friend Jack and I would listen to that song constantly- during our morning break we would sit against the lockers and each take one earbud from his iPod headphones and listen to it on repeat. They played a good mix from all of their albums, including some of my other favorites like “Center of Attention,” “Amsterdam,” and “Satellite.”
The epic finale was when they invited Jack’s Mannequin to come on stage and play with them for the encore, and for their very last song they played a cover of “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John. Seriously. Epic. I haven’t had that much fun at a concert in ages, and I’ll definitely go see them again if I have the chance.