MUSIC: "Guster rocked so hard"

Opening alt rock/emo band Graham Cole, walked off into the dim backstage of Club Laga last Tuesday night amidst enthusiastic applause. The lights came on and the rare sold out crowd gradually packed in toward the stage in anticipation of the main act to follow. People casually watched the crew prepare the stage until the lights began to dim and Gerry Rafferty?s ?Baker Street? came on over the sound system. Guster strode on stage and I was hardly prepared for what would turn into one of the greatest shows I have ever seen.

From the first note of their opening ?Careful? until the final rift [WC] of the entirely acoustic performance of ?Jesus Over the Radio,? (their final encore song), the wide array of talent, creativity, and instrumental range of the Somerville, Mass., group was showcased.

?Our manager came up to us right before the show and said that tonight?s crowd was feisty,? Ryan Miller, lead vocalist and guitarist, quipped to his fervent audience. ?I?m not too sure what that means, but it sounds like a good thing.?

And the feisty nature of Guster?s fan base was evident as they were playfully pelted with ping pong balls at the climactic finish of ?Airport Song,? as well as when they goaded the band onto playing their inventive "Channukah-themed" introduction to ?What You Wish For.?

Listeners? energy was more than matched in Guster?s performance as drummer Brian Rosenworcel exhibited through many of his highly animated, signature stick-less solos in songs like ?Center of Attention? and ?Demons.? Adam Gardner provided the lead guitar and harmonized with Miller on ?Diane? among many others even taking the lead for ?Barrel of a Gun? and ?Happier? while interacting with fans and maintaining a powerful stage presence. A roadie even let his hair down and fittingly contributed his lengthy mane, rocking with Guster in their exceptional rendition of the throw back Scorpions? hit ?Rock You Like a Hurricane.?

[Other songs in their repertoire included ?So Long,? ?Homecoming King,? and ?Amsterdam? before ending with the audience hanging on every note of ?Fa Fa.? Afterward Miller offered the crowd an interesting ultimatum for an encore. CAN BE CUT]

?That was the last song of our set but we?re not going to get off the stage and leave you with a mystery of what we?re doing back there before we return,? he said. ?Instead we?re going to leave all the mystery in the hands of Brian [Rosenworcel]. If you make him want to come back out here then he will. Otherwise, we?ll just play without drums.?

After Rosenworcel had disappeared in a room behind the stage, the lead singer silenced the rambunctious crowd.

?Quiet down, everyone,? Miller implored teasingly. ?Let?s see if he?ll still come back without cheering.?

The drummer did return, however, and was met with light-hearted chuckles, receiving a deserved ovation until the encore began.

Once it was underway, Guster continued its nearly flawless performance with the only pitfall [WC] being the concert's inevitable end. The finale, though, only further displayed Guster?s ability and presence as they unplugged their instruments, abandoned their microphones, and lined up with one another on the stage?s edge to play.

Although ?Jesus Over the Radio? was overwhelmingly lauded, the concert ended on a bittersweet note as Miller pointed out a sad coincidence.

?The last time we were in Pittsburgh we played at the Metropol and then they closed. Before that we played ________ [FILL THIS SPACE!] and they closed. Now this place, Laga, is getting turned into a condo,? noted Miller. ?Whenever we come to Pittsburgh, I think we might be cursed.?

As the fans packed [USE ANOTHER WORD] toward the exits they were left with a mixed set of emotions for the quickly approaching loss of a beloved venue but overwhelming gratitude for another unforgettable event.