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Boston-based trio Guster, coming to the Palace Theatre on Wednesday, were begun as a word-of-mouth band back in ’92. An unusual grouping of two acoustic guitars and bongos, Guster played short, catchy pop tunes that caught the ears of many young fans. Their first and second self-released albums sold more than 40,000 copies combined without the help of a label promotion or distribution, a feat due to the band’s relentless touring, the Internet, and their Rep Program—a grassroots marketing campaign run by their adoring fans.

Guster signed with Sire in ’98, rereleasing their second album, Goldfly, which included the quirky radio hit “Airport Song.” Lost and Gone Forever quickly followed, spawning the popular “Fa Fa” and “Barrel of a Gun,” and sending the group on the road to win new fans—which indeed they did.

Guster are now touting their recently released Keep It Together (Palm/Reprise), which is a tad different than anything else they’ve done. For one, the songs feature a traditional drum kit, bass and piano, and the band claim that recording Keep It Together took longer since they had to learn their new instruments. Another departure for this Guster work: The songs are all about a breakup—Ryan Miller’s. “That’s what was on my mind,” Miller has said, “and it helped to try and turn it all into music. I would have to say it was a difficult birth, but the baby is healthy.” Keep It Together has been their biggest seller yet, with 98,000 sold in eight weeks.

All of this is fine and good, but it’s their live shows that have earned Guster the love of many. You can join the ranks at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) on Wednesday (Sept. 24). Sam Roberts will open the show, taking the stage at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $25 at the door, $22.50 in advance. Call 476-1000 for tickets.

Albany Symphony Orchestra

Summer’s over. Those Fabulous Philadelphians have slipped back into Pennsylvania, and the squirrels and other woodland creatures have reclaimed Tanglewood from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This can only mean one thing: It’s time to turn our attention back to the Capital Region’s own world-class orchestra, the Albany Symphony.

The ASO, once again performing under the capable baton of David Alan Miller, begin their season tonight (Thursday, in Saratoga Springs) and tomorrow (Friday, in Troy) with a program titled American Romantic. This will include the world premiere of Peter Child’s Festival, an ASO commission that Child has dedicated to the orchestra. Special guest violinist Cho Liang Lin will be featured on Samuel Barber’s virtuosic (and unabashedly romantic) Violin Concerto, and the evening will end with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. OK, so Beethoven wasn’t American—let the German be an honorary Yank for the evening.

The Albany Symphony Orchestra presents American Romantic tonight (Thursday, Sept. 18) at 7:30 PM at the Canfield Casino (Congress Park, Saratoga Springs), and tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 19) at 8 PM at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (Second and State streets, Troy). Tickets are $37.50-$19. For tickets to tonight’s Saratoga performance, call 465-4755 or 584-4132; for tickets to Friday’s Troy performance, call 273-0038.

Dr. Faustus

When a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. We all know that, but nevertheless—optimists that we are—we hope against hope that our big break is one day to come. Deep down, we know we deserve it. So, despite the long hours spent watching episodes of VH1’s Where Are They Now and Behind the Music, with their clear lessons about the fleeting nature of fame and the price to be paid for success, we crave the big and unlikely break. Beginning tomorrow (Friday), Capital Repertory Theatre presents an updated version of the “granddaddy” of all great-deals-gone-south stories, one that’ll make even the Leif Garrett episode pale in comparison: Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus.

Marlowe (a contemporary of Shakespeare’s) used as his model a famed 16th-century magician, whose skills were so prodigious that he was rumored to be in league with Satan. Marlowe used this real-life figure as inspiration for his own Dr. John Faustus, an ambitious scholar whose thirst for knowledge and power leads him to investigate the black arts, which in turn lead to a communion with a demonic middle-man named Mephistopheles. Unheeding of the promised horrors of hell, Faustus agrees to a deal with the demon’s boss, Lucifer, for unlimited power in exchange for his own soul. Though when the time comes to make good on his end, the good doctor is less than enthusiastic. Will he have time to repent? Can he pull an Affleck? Or must the wages of sin be paid in full?

Dr. Faustus opens tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 19) at Capital Repertory Theatre (111 N. Pearl St., Albany) and runs through Oct. 18. For ticket prices and show times, call 445-7469.

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