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Barenaked Ladies with Guster 

Friday, Oct. 20; Savvis Center

Let's face it: Among the things you think of when the bands Barenaked Ladies and Guster come to mind, arena rock is pretty low on the list. And yet that's where the group of Canadian wiseguys and the engaging acoustic trio have been booked -- the Savvis Center. It's only natural, one would suppose, given both bands' remarkable success in the past couple of years. BNL, of course, were an established favorite in the Great White North, but they never made much of an impression in the States until they scored with singles such as ³Brian Wilson² and their true breakthrough hit, ³One Week.² That song's long run of ubiquity on the airwaves broke the group wide open in America, but its appeal as a novelty song -- name-checking LeAnn Rimes and mentioning Sting's Tantric sex prowess along the way -- left the group open to the problem of how to follow it up.Happily, BNL strayed pretty far from the template of ³One Week² on their new album, Maroon. Instead, they chose to focus on their abilities to produce melodious pop-rock and songs that are rich with wry but always gentle humor. It stands in stark contrast to the loud and angry stuff that is otherwise dominating the charts these days, and for some folks -- perhaps at least an arena full of them locally -- it's a welcome contrast indeed.

Guster's success is similarly gratifying for fans who prefer songcraft over image and simplicity over hype. Armed with just acoustic guitars and congas, the band has garnered a rabid following that expanded considerably with the release of the 1999 Steve Lillywhite-produced album Lost and Gone Forever.

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