Written by Jeff McMahon, Photos by Suzanne Davis McMahon
Guster’s “On the Ocean” weekend didn’t involve seeing a body of water until the the band took the stage at Thompson’s Point in Portland on Saturday night. It’s a little park that juts out into the water in a very secluded area (no houses were visible across the water). There was a heavy downpour which made parts of the grounds a swamp with giant mud puddles- but also gave us a rainbow. Opening act the Secret Sisters coaxed many of the fans out from hiding under the covered area. The views were gorgeous, post-rain.
Thompson’s Point felt like a great concert venue and a good spot for a festival. Day two of “On the Ocean” certainly felt more like a festival show. It had lots of food vendors, beer, spots to eat, to look out on the water. Would’ve been better without the mud, but that added to the “festival” experience.
Guster took their setlist from Friday night and really did a cross section of the catalog. They played favorites “Careful,” “The Captain,” “Backyard,” “I Spy,” with new favorites “Long Night,” “Endlessly,” and “Doin’ It By Myself.” The setting sun backdrop was an added bonus.
The band then surprised the crowd by “Paddling” out to the small stage in the middle (the band carried Adam Gardner on a paddle board through the crowd). This was the truly special and unique element of the show. It felt like they were in among the crowd and played “Amsterdam” and “Demons” (a crowd favorite) that they almost never plays live.
Then the band returned to the main stage and closed out the set with several old favorites including “Happier, and “Barrel of a Gun” (there were a bunch of kids on stage at one point too!) Finally, the encore was highlighted by “Satellite.”
Guster’s festival is still in it’s infancy and it feels more like a Guster weekend. Having attended several other music festivals, a full day or music and activities in one spot is a bit more “festival-like.” Guster sprinkled their ideas throughout Portland (event at Mast Landing Brewery, minor league baseball game) and it certainly gave the event more of a weekend feeling than a festival. If the events were more formally announced (instead of via social media right before) it would have been easier to plan attendance given that my wife and I have two young children.
Overall it was a fun event with lots of music. Hopefully next year the shows, activities, and food will have a unified home base and a less scattered feeling.
About the author: Suzanne started her love affair with photography at age 15. When she's not snapping photos, she is working as a Clinical Social Worker just outside of Boston. Suzanne also enjoys attending concerts and singing. Check out more of her photos at www.suzannedavisphotography.com