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Guster / Nada Surf / Tristan Prettyman
October 3, 2006 - Moore Theatre - Seattle, WA
by Christopher Patterson
10.15.06

The drums were what first shocked me. On CD it’s impossible to appreciate Guster’s rhythm section. Live, the sensations and vibrations of percussionist Brian Rosenworcel (nicknamed “Thundergod” by fans) drag your ears toward the sticky black floor of the venue until you are hugging the ground just to feel every slam of the drum set.

Guster’s greatest attribute was their devotion to their own progression as musicians. Live, not one of their songs sounded like recycled melodies or even variations on previous solos. Guster must begin writing every new song with the thought: “what have we not tried before?”, a feature that bled through every inimitable song. In short, Guster alone was worth every penny of the $30 ticket price, whether one chooses to focus on the drum solos, the synthesizer solos, the always tantalizingly piercing guitarists (piercing as in, every note seems deliberately visceral) or the Seattle violinist that appeared for “Satellite,” the band delivers an unexpectedly memorable performance.

California’s Tristan Prettyman opened the show with a charming voice that lacked anything impressive as far as range or melody. I was reminded of such remarkable acts like Regina Spektar, where the audacity and sincerity of the lead singer could make up for whatever deficiencies were heard in the accompaniment. Prettyman’s serene voice moved the room into a calm atmosphere, though there seemed to be a lack of anything genuine or sincere in it.

Nada Surf’s performance was a blast back to the 90s movie era. As a lead guitarist, Matthew Caws was not only gaudy but seemed desperate for attention. He wore ostentatious dreadlocks and was smoking during the entire set. I knew he had to be getting hot up there in his flamboyant leather jacket—and smoking on stage in Seattle? As “rebellious” as his image was, his choice of guitar solos seemed less pertinent to the song and more made for the fact that they sounded like guitar solos that sent an image of rebellion that seemed fickle and fake. The rest of the band was a mediocre four-set with songs that began sounding too similar to enjoy. Twice during the performance their girlfriends (the guitarist’s and lead singer’s) came out dancing, sometimes to encourage the audience and sometimes just to be on the stage.