“It’s College!” were the initial words of rock band Guster’s Ryan Miller to an eager Smith Center crowd on Monday night. It certainly is – and both Guster and Jason Mraz did their research regarding ours. While the artists have played to numerous universities, both acts found a way to add touches of GW to their banter with the audience.
Tuesday night’s show opened with Mraz’s “Tonight,” “Not Again” and “Curbside Prophet” from his album “Waiting for My Rocket to Come.” After paying homage to his percussionist – Toca Rivera – Mraz elicited cheers through his cover and drastic improvement of Christina Aguilera’s hit “Beautiful.” Mraz also proved to GW students that he did his homework on the University, mentioning Thurston Hall’s notoriously scandalous reputation, and imploring the help of GW guys for advice regarding his mojo.
Mraz entertained with his tongue-tying improvisations, although many began to blend together and some songs were indistinguishable from others. However, he was at his best for his first single, “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” and the immediately following “Sleep All Day.” Closing with “Too Much Food,” he photographed members of his band and tossed the Polaroids into the crowd of Mraz-hungry females.
After an anxious wait, Guster opened with favorites “I Spy” and “Barrel of a Gun.” The band incorporated songs from albums new and old, but most were from “Lost and Gone Forever” or the newest release, “Keep it Together.” Guster undoubtedly excelled Tuesday night due to the efforts of percussionist Brian Rosenworcel, who displayed an incredible amount of energy playing his bongos, striking them so hard at times that it appeared painful. The set also included the songs “Ramona” and “Amsterdam” from the group’s latest CD.
Guster definitely charmed the GW crowd with its wit. Band members elicited laughs by mentioning the “freshman 15,” taking a stab at the sensitive Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer and even playing an impromptu, off-key version of “Walking on Sunshine.” After slowing down for the weighty “Either Way,” the band – which met at Tufts University in 1992- brought the energy back for the fantastic “Window,” featuring guest violinist Matt Rosen, and a crowd favorite, “What You Wish For.”
Taking the audience back to the album “Goldfly” with the songs “Medicine” and “Demon,” Guster concluded with crowd favorite “Fa Fa.” After carefully explaining the concept of an encore to the audience, the band returned amid deafening cheers for “Airport Song” and “Happier.” As Guster left, masses of glowing GW students filed out of the Smith center; despite the slowly dawning reality of the following day’s advent of classes.