The members of acoustic based alternative rock band Guster have come a long way since making music in their college dorm room.
The three original members of the band met during their first year at Tufts University, Boston, and have been writing, recording and touring together for the past 20 years.
Ryan Miller, lead singer and guitarist for the band, said they wouldn't have believed back then that going out on something like a 20th anniversary tour was in the cards for them.
The band Guster (from left, Ryan Miller, Brian Rosenworcel and Adam Gardner) will perform at 8 p.m. today at The State Theatre, State College.
"It doesn't seem like a very safe bet when you're 18 that you'll be 40 and still playing with the same dudes you met freshman year," he said. "No, I don't think any of us anticipated anything like that really."
But they are on that tour, and will be stopping in State College along the way to perform a stripped-down set accompanied by a string section at 8 p.m.today at the State Theatre in State College. Opening for Guster will be the solo project of veteran Brooklyn-based musician Sam Cohen, who performs under the moniker Yellowbirds.
Known for songs like "Fa Fa," "Careful" and "Amsterdam," Guster built a loyal fan-base over their career through incessant touring and word-of-mouth promotion.
If you go
What: Guster with Yellowbirds
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
Details: Tickets are $30, or $25 for students. They can be purchased by calling the box office at 272-0606 or on-line at www.thestatetheatre. org.
Miller said they've seen music and the music industry change a lot since Guster first started, but he's proud of what they've been able to accomplish and how they've been able to adapt.
"I'm very proud that we have some kind of legacy at this point, and have made a bunch of studio records that seem to hold up that people still listen to," he said. "We can go on tour now and play a mix of old songs and new songs and it doesn't seem to be a palpable difference in how they're received."
Though the band doesn't tour as much as they did before, Miller said when they do hit the road, they're sure to bring something "special" to fans every time.
With this acoustic tour - where the band is playing in all seated venues, which Miller said they've never done before - Guster will perform a battery of B-side tracks and deeper cuts from their catalog.
"The response has been great," Miller said. "People have really been enjoying the show. We're playing a lot of songs we don't usually play."
What he thinks people like about seeing Guster live is their "what you see is what you get" approach, Miller said.
"We engage the audience on a level that's sort of, hopefully, more personal," he said.
The State College audience will also have the chance to get personal with Cohen, known for his decade spent with psychedelic/indie rock trio, Apollo Sunshine, as he plays new and old songs from his solo project, Yellowbirds. Though he usually plays with a back-up band of up to three instrumentalists, his local performance will be just Cohen, stripped-down and acoustic.
"With brand new material, I'm still exploring what the song means to me," Cohen said. "So it's cool to play them in the most minimal way possible."
Yellowbirds' first full-length album, "The Color," was released early last year. Cohen said making music on his own has been hard in a lot of ways, but creatively it's been very rewarding.
"I've been really psyched on the response in the last year," he said. "It feels good, it's very close to what I'm interested in artistically right now. I feel really refreshed to be starting something new."
And because Yellowbirds is still a young band, Cohen said he's happy he was asked to play with and support a band like Guster.
"I think that's really incredible," he said of Guster being together for 20 years. "[The tour] feels like a celebration of the band and all they've done together."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.