State Theatre presents

Guster On The Ocean (Night 2)

with Bahamas, Madison Cunningham, The Ballroom Thieves, Brooke Annibale

Sat, August 12, 2023

Thompsons Point

Doors: 3:00pm - Show: 3:30pm - all ages

$60 advance GA
$65 day of show GA
$110 two-day pass
$150 three-day pass
$250 two-day VIP
$275 three-day VIP
$20 kids (17 & under)
$30 kids two-day pass

All Thompson’s Point shows are rain or shine. Buy tickets in person (without fees) at the State Theatre box office Fridays & Saturdays 10am-3pm, or the night of any State Theatre show. The Thompson’s Point Box Office opens 2 hours before doors day of show. On-site parking is very limited, buy in advance above. CLICK HERE for more transportation info.

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On the Ocean returns to Portland Maine this summer to celebrate the Guster community we’ve built together. It takes three nights to get all the songs we like onto the setlists, so this year we’re playing THREE SHOWS on August 11, 12 & 13.

We’re doing an aquatic-themed acoustic “prom” at the State Theater, and two nights at fabulous kid-friendly Thompson’s Point, including a Sunday set of Keep It Together in its entirety in honor of its 20th anniversary.

The lineup is our best ever, with appearances from Shakey Graves, Lucius, Bahamas, Madison Cunningham, The Ballroom Thieves, Oshima Brothers and Brooke Annibale.

The Kid’s Zone is back this year, plus live merch screen-printing, games, food trucks, and more.

Learn more at:

Look Alive is our 8th album. The bulk of it was recorded in a vintage keyboard museum in Calgary AB, during a January stretch when the temperature reached 30 degrees below zero. We ended up in Canada because our British producer, Leo Abrahams, couldn’t turn around an American work visa fast enough, and we feel lucky to have discovered Studio Bell at the last minute. Despite having access to room after room of well-maintained analog keys, Leo gravitated to a cheap Ensoniq Mirage synth from the 1980’s that made Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation-era sounds from floppy disks. Leo spent countless hours poring over these floppy disks while the band gawked at the mellotrons, harpsichords, and other vintage equipment housed at Studio Bell. It was the beginnings of a stylistic clash that would ultimately play out beautifully. Our band had always gravitated to “warm” sounds. Leo would introduce us to “cold” sounds and the way they challenge us as listeners. He was the perfect complementary piece for Guster.

After working with the late Richard Swift four years ago and discovering a more raw and vintage sound on Evermotion, we fully embraced studio production with Leo this time around. The sheer amount of production on Look Alive grew into its own statement. There is a lot to unpack.

One day in Calgary we arrived at the studio to discover that Leo had put in a few extra hours on our song “Summertime.” He’d built an entire new intro using the Ensoniq Mirage overnight and played it for us. The band reaction wasn’t too kind. Our beautiful song now had a jarring, harsh, disruptive introduction, instead of the soft mellotron flutes we’d known. After some days of light bickering about it, Leo finally shed his proper British diplomatic side and belted out that “the world doesn’t need another fucking Beatles pastiche!” This would eventually become a rallying cry for the album as we strove to make something new and powerful together.

Title track “Look Alive” is an ominous, processed sonic collage with haunting words about waking up and becoming active in the midst of hollow words and fake heroes. “Hard Times,” written in the studio, came out more like the dark pop of Peter Gabriel / Depeche Mode / Tears for Fears than what people might think of Guster. “Overexcited” felt like classic Brit-pop and so Ryan sang it with a British accent over an Ensoniq marimba. Some of Guster’s critics will say “but you can’t do that” — and that’s something we’ve heard our entire career. We don’t subscribe to the same musical ideology they do and never have.

Writing songs for the second straight record with multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds (who joined the band in 2010) has been a key to our evolution. Working with artists like Leo Abrahams, John Congleton, and Collin DuPuis proved to be inspiring and adds to a “brain trust” that bolsters the songs. With Look Alive the plan is simple. Grow our musical community. Write better and better songs. Keep our minds open. Never repeat ourselves and create a legacy of music that is undeniable.

– Brian Rosenworcel, drummer of Guster


“I think I’m always trying to get closer and closer to the source, like the way old blues albums were made—there’s no production; all the emotion you’re hearing is just the players, the room, the song. It’s almost like a photograph as opposed to a painting, where if you don’t like the color of a certain flower in the garden, you change it. I want you to hear every word I’m saying, and take in the song and make it your own.”

The fifth album from Bahamas, Sad Hunk takes its title from a nickname bestowed upon the artist by his wife in reaction to how he was being portrayed in the media, “Something like ten years ago I did a photo shoot, and in all the pictures they sent back, I was lit half in shadow, looking all brooding and mysterious,” says the award-winning singer/songwriter otherwise known as Afie Jurvanen. “When my wife saw the photos the first thing she said was, ‘Whoa—sad hunk,’ and after that it became sort of a joke among our friends.”

It’s a fitting backstory for an album that embodies an undaunted self-awareness, each track graced with Bahamas’s wry wit and unabashed heart. In sketching Sad Hunk’s delicately composed batch of songs, Jurvanen drew much inspiration from his home life and all the joy and struggle that comes with building a family together. Having recently moved to the coast of Nova Scotia with his wife and two daughters, the Ontario native inevitably imbued the album with his surroundings, even while committing to a sometimes-painful sincerity in his lyrics. “I definitely use music to work things out for myself,” says Jurvanen. “It’s possible I’m too open sometimes, but I really don’t know any better way to be. If I tried to just go write fun songs about hot dogs or something, I’d probably fail.”

2018’s Grammy-Nominated Earthtones saw Bahamas joining forces with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer James Gadson (the rhythm section behind D’Angelo’s Black Messiah), and even merging them with his stable of longtime heavyweight musicians on Kimmel. Jurvanen created Sad Hunk with those same collaborators – Christine Bougie (guitar), Don Kerr (drums), Mike O’Brien (bass), and Felicity Williams (vocals). Recorded by longtime producer and multi-Grammy nominee Robbie Lackritz (Feist, Jack Johnson, Robbie Robertson), Sad Hunk is the next step in Afie’ virtuosic signature style of restraint as a guitarist. It also features the graceful guitar work of Sam Weber, a virtually unknown musician whom Jurvanen discovered on YouTube. “I sort of had a musical crush on Sam, so I invited him to open for us a few years ago and we ended up hitting it off,” says Jurvanen. “I asked him to come out and record with us without even knowing what I wanted him to play, which is generally how I like to work with people: I always think it’s so much more interesting when you let them find their way into the songs on their own.”

An album born from charmed spontaneity and raw imagination, Sad Hunk unfolds in a genre-less groove-heavy and jangly sound beautifully suited for Jurvanen’s warm vocal presence. In its musing on what’s essential and what’s expendable in today’s world, the album offers up songs like “Own Alone”—a brightly kinetic track threaded with a bit of self-effacing wisdom (“Too broke to feel so wealthy/Too young to feel unhealthy/Too old to understand the selfie/Too far gone for you to help me”). “That song came from being fascinated by how being on our phones all the time changes us at a cellular level—it changes the way you think, it changes the way you operate,” says Jurvanen. “I’m not suggesting we become Luddites and churn our own butter, but I do think we need to question whether you really need to have this thing on you at all times.”

Elsewhere on Sad Hunk, Bahamas slips into a tender examination of love and all its complexities. One of the album’s most revealing moments, “Less Than Love” finds Jurvanen owning up to his anxiety about the ways he might fall short of his family’s expectations (“Everything that’s left unsaid/All the books I bought and never read/Thank god she can’t see into my head/She’d see I know nothing”). Penned with co-writers Dee White and Pat McLaughlin (John Prine, Bonnie Raitt), the acoustic-guitar-driven “Half Your Love” shares a profoundly heartfelt outpouring of affection for his wife. “It’s the first time I’ve ever co-written a song, but I feel every line of it to the point of tears,” Jurvanen says. And on the album-closing “Wisdom of the World,” with its shapeshifting textures and unruly guitar solo, Bahamas presents a layered meditation on forgiveness and regret. “That one’s about my brother, who’s a recovering alcoholic and recovering addict and just got sober again a while ago,” says Jurvanen. “Writing it helped me to think about how to love people who are hard to love, which has been a recurring theme for me for a long time. Because no matter how you feel about someone, they still get to live their life. We all have to figure out a way to try and live together, even when it’s hard.”

For all its moments of heavy-hearted reflection, Sad Hunk ultimately channels a certain lightness, the pure elation in expressing what often goes unspoken. “You say things in songs that you’d never, ever say in conversation,” Jurvanen notes. “But it feels really good to say those things. I don’t know why telling people the most basic things you’re thinking is so hard sometimes, but it is. ”In sharing the album with the world, Jurvanen hopes that his songs might inspire others to embrace their own sad-hunk tendencies. “We’re all sad hunks—we’re all these broken beautiful human beings,” he says. “The idea that there’s only one way to live life is so backward. So instead of listening to the noise, just get in touch with what’s inside and find something you love to do, and then do it well. And don’t let yourself be hard. Just be soft. Be as soft with each other as you possibly can.”

Madison Cunningham

As its title suggests, Revealer—the new album by Madison Cunningham—is full of confessions, intimations, and hard truths the Los Angeles singer-songwriter-guitarist might rather have kept to herself. It’s a warts-and-all self-portrait of a young artist who is full of doubt and uncertainty, yet bursting with exciting ideas about music and life, who has numerous Grammy nominations but still feels like she has far to go, who turns those misgivings into songs that are confident in their idiosyncrasies. It’s also a rumination on music as a vehicle for such revelations, what’s gained and what’s lost when you put words to your innermost feelings. “There’s a sense of conflict about revealing anything about yourself—not just what to reveal, but whether you should reveal anything at all,” she says. “When you have to vouch for yourself and present a true picture of who you are, that can get confusing very quickly. This record is a product of me trying to find myself and my interests again. I felt like somewhere along the way I had lost the big picture of my own life.”

Reassembling that picture resulted in songs full of odd turns of phrase, skewed imagery, and witty asides; Cunningham writes to figure things out, and she doesn’t settle for easy answers or pat platitudes. Instead, more often than not she pulls the rug out from under herself, playing both straight man and comic relief. “I’m not immune to a piece of bad news, I just do what I must to move on,” she sings on the percolating opener “All I’ve Ever Known.” If it sounds like a cry of determination and fortitude, Cunningham immediately undercuts herself: “Give me truth but put me under so I don’t feel a thing.”

These are dark, funny songs for dark, not-so-funny times. “I wanted this work to reflect how I was taking in the world at that moment, and I promised myself I wouldn’t withhold the good or the bad from this self-portrait. I couldn’t have planned for the startling range of emotions a pandemic would bring on — sorrow, depression, anger, anxiety, fear, apathy. Much less writing during one. While I could take some comfort in knowing other people were experiencing those very things, I had yet to understand how many conflicting emotions a person could carry at once.” The confusion she shared with the rest of the world, however, was compounded and complicated when her grandmother died unexpectedly. Suddenly, the pain became unbearably personal. Revealer became a way for her to work through all of those overwhelming emotions. With rich strings eddying around her measured guitar strums, “Life According to Raechel” is a catalog of missed opportunities and lost time, all the visits she never made to her beloved grandmother, all the important details that make up a life. “There’s always something left unsaid,” Cunningham sings. “Were your eyes green? Were they blue? What was it that I forgot to ask you?”

She offers no resolution, no closure, no comfort at all—which is exactly what makes the song so honest about grief. “You’ve got this wound that’s never really going to heal,” she says, “because you’re going to feel the absence of that person for the rest of your life. It’s never going to be resolved. When I realized that, I turned a corner I knew I wouldn’t come back from. When I was able to finally be honest about what it felt like to grieve her, I was able to properly grieve the state of the world and the other things I had lost. Like earning your first gray hair. You could pluck it, but it would just keep growing back.”

The rest of Revealer didn’t come easily, but the songs did come. “Songwriting wasn’t this romantic outlet. It was not fun. It was a constant reflection of how poorly I was doing as a human being. I didn’t want it to be true, because it’s such a humbling thing to admit to needing help.” To capture the rawness of those emotions and the urgency of these new songs, Cunningham recorded as she wrote, finishing a song and then taking it to the studio within a matter of days. She worked once again with Tyler Chester, her longtime producer and collaborator, who manned her debut, 2019’s Who Are You Now and her 2020 covers EP Wednesday, and she also brought in producers Mike Elizondo (Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, Mastodon) and Tucker Martine (Neko Case, Sufjan Stevens).

Cunningham has already proved herself to be a deft and imaginative guitar player, but Revealer foregrounds her spry staccato playing so that it becomes a musical signature. “I’ve always been interested in different ways of approaching the guitar that challenges the way I think I should play it. I tried to explore that more fully and intentionally on this record. I pulled some inspiration from non-Western styles, like Afropop and South American music. I wanted to make the guitar sound more integral to the song structure and less like, ‘now here comes Mr. Electric Guitar.’”

While experimenting in the studio, Cunningham found ways to make familiar instruments sound unusual and unsettling. On the hard-driving “Your Hate Could Power a Train”—which directs its most withering observations inward rather than outward—she transforms a simple ukulele into something dark and menacing, drawing out the song’s darker undercurrents. “I plugged it in and detuned it an octave with a pedal, so it has this wild, undefinable sound. I used that as the main instrument on that song because I wanted it to feel out of control, frantic, and angry. There were so many moments like that, when I felt liberated to stop and take a deep dive and explore sounds. I used to think there’s no use in messing around. But actually there’s only use in messing around. You have to explore, because the best ideas come from childlike curiosity.”

Eventually she emerged with a set of songs prickly with emotions and revelations, an album full of contradictions that somehow speak to a unified truth. Revealer reckons with her recent past, but also defines her future. Hoping that she would be singing these songs for many years to come, she planted secret messages to her future self: promises and reminders that she believes might continue to reinforce the lessons she learned during the writing process. “No one’s holding you back now!” she exclaims on “In From Japan,” which she recorded with Martine. “That statement wasn’t true when I wrote it or when I sang it, but I chose to keep that line. That’s a very beautiful part of the songwriting process: Sometimes you write things for your future self to grab onto. You write some idea or sentiment that you hope you can eventually find meaning in.”

As Cunningham learned while making this album, the songwriting process is just as open-ended as the grieving process. That idea is at the heart of Revealer, which is more than simply a document of a dark time in her life. It’s a survival guide, a chronicle of growth and change written by the artist who finds joy in the process and beauty in the mistakes. “Doesn’t it feel strange when you say it out loud?” she asks on “Who Are You Now.” “Time to act your age, no one’s gonna show you how.”

Brooke Annibale

Over the last four years, it’s become normal to think, “Well, if we can just make it through this life-altering event, things will be better.” Whether it’s a global pandemic, or a tumultuous election, a period of depression, or an economic recession – we keep expecting to cross the “better” finish line. And when things get really bad, who do we want to have by our side? With whom do we want to face the hardest times? This is the process that led Brooke Annibale to title her gorgeous new album Better By Now. 

Since the release of 2018’s Hold To The Light, the Pittsburgh-born, Rhode Island-based singer-songwriter has both redefined her sound and entered a new phase of life. After making significant strides in her mental-health journey and saying “I do” to her wife, Brooke has never been more excited to share a new collection of songs. Better By Now features 10 blossoming indie-pop tracks that Brooke describes as a “spectrum of emotions.” In her trademark layered approach, Brooke reflects on love, anxiety, and how two seemingly opposing forces can exist at once.

Not confined by any one genre, Brooke’s expressive and beautifully thoughtful songwriting creates a dreamy, dark, and enticing sonic landscape. She has been a favorite among music supervisors and featured in such media as Stereogum, Under The Radar, American Songwriter, NPR/World Café and more. She has also shared the stage with artists like Mt. Joy, Iron & Wine, Lucius, and Rufus Wainwright.