The beauty of living in New York City is being able to take advantage of the bounty of cultural events. For under $30, one can experience a magical evening of music, art, culture, etc. These events always have produce moments that give you a chill, making you think, damn I'm so glad I experienced that. Guster and artist Jon Sarkin provided those moments on Friday evening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You're probably as surprised to hear Guster played there, as lead singer Ryan Miller and Sarkin were to in awe to be playing there.
Sarkin's art is a big part of Guster's latest project, Easy Wonderful. From the packaging to merch to the video, Sarkin's art is there. Drummer Brian Rosenworcel was the first to discover Sarkin's work and as fellow bandmate Adam Gardner said, they all fell in love with his paintings. Apparently he sent them so much art for the album, that they had a hard time choosing just one painting. They immediately knew the color wheel would be the cover. From there Sarkin wound up doing the whole booklet and participated in the video for Do You Love Me. He is creating art as the video progresses. Brian brought pieces of art that Sarkin left on the ground at the end of the video shoot and passed them around for the audience to look at. Sarkin explained that the joy is in creating the art and he doesn't necessarily have to keep it. He does keep whatever his wife likes. His recent work brings to mind Roz Chast, most famous for her New Yorker cartoons.
The show started off with curators explaining music's relativity to pieces in the museum's collection. One caught Ryan off guard by asking how he would explain an ancient Greek instrument depicted on an urn to his daughter. The conversation continued to explore the relationship between the band, Sarkin and video director Chad Carlberg. The band originally wanted to shoot the video in Sarkin's studio, but realized that wasn't possible as it's filled wall to wall with his work. The interview below from Good Morning Gloucester begins in his studio. Carlberg talked about the hardest part of making the video. They got the go ahead from the record company on a Friday and made the video on that Monday. Nice to see things haven't changed in the making of music videos.
After the conversation, Sarkin took his place at the easel and began to work while the band performed. Ryan, Adam and Luke played musical chairs, each taking on the bass, guitar and piano. They reworked their songs specifically for this "acoustic" show, keeping in mind that it might be a format to take on the road (Yes!). The bulk of the 45 minute set consisted of songs from Easy Wonderful including Bad Bad World, Stay With Me Jesus, That's The Way To Get To Heaven and a rousing version of This Could All Be Yours. Harmonies were in full swing.
In a hypnotic and powerful Satellite, the band was accompanied by two guest players on violin and cello. It made the song a religious experience. They concluded the set with Do You Love Me. This has got to be the band's new anthem. Didn't think they could match the pop magic of Amsterdam, but they did it with this song. Speaking of religious experience, the encore of Jesus On The Radio brought the band and Sarkin to the front of the stage, all unplugged. Brian played tambourine and Sarkin on teeny tiny maracas. It was an epiphany.
Apparently in the next few weeks, the Met will be posting a video of the whole evening. In the meantime, here's a snippet.
Here are more photos of the evening.