Thursday, April 17, 2008

of a pianer player

Last night, the spousal unit and I took a road trip to Adrian MI. We found out Saturday that Ben Folds was playing at the University there, and as we're both fans, we made the trek.

A friend of ours lives there, but he was at a book signing that day (for his own book...which, by the way, rocks) and couldn't meet us. But he did refer us to a good Mexican restaurant.

While the spousal unit only thought her flautas were "okay," I was a big fan of the tacos. Of course, the tacos were the recommended item, so I just chalk her avoidance of the specialty of the house to my spousal unit's desire to always walk the unbeaten path...and in no way would I ever say she was just being difficult with her choices...I'm too nice of a guy for that.

The concert was in a gym on the college campus. Somehow, I find it a bit depressing that so many of our experiences with music tend to take place in areas that are better suited for volleyball than for music. I wonder how much this gets on the nerves of the performers.

There was also something about the crowd at the event. They were not attractive people. Now, I'm not exactly what you'd call Humphrey Bogart, but it looked like someone had jumped through the crowd while beating people with an ugly stick.

There were, for some reason, a lot of people who were wearing either clothes or jewelry that looked like they made it in summer camp. There were a number of guys in the crowd who were larger but wearing tight shirts that emphasized their ample bosom. Again, I'm not exactly scrawny, but I know a secret that these guys obviously don't: if you're big, do NOT tuck in your shirt.

Opening act was Ben Lee, and he was okay...did as good as one guy with a guitar and songs that very few of us had ever heard can do.

Ben Folds, though, was really good. He's playing with a band these days...a drummer and a distorted bass's like the Ben Folds Five, but with different guys. There was also a roadie who would come out at random intervals to play tambourine...he always had his back to the crowd, played very dramatically, and then left without noticing the band at all.

They were very tight...played some stuff off their upcoming album, all the classics, some experimental/jam stuff. The version of "Narcolepsy" was a full-out sonic assault, which was interesting, because it's not normally my favorite song...but it rocked.

I also loved the instrumentation. We all know the bass through the distortion pedal bit, but he was also running his piano through well as through some other effects. He would hand mute certain strings so that the piano would be more percussive. He snuck in some synthesizer. At times, he attacked the piano, going so far as to play the piano by throwing his seat at it.

There was also singalong portions, but they weren't the annoying "call and response" bits (that unfortunately the opener used). Instead, he had us singing horn parts and 3 part melodies.

And the crowd loved it. Actually, it was weird to see a rock show where the virtuosity of the musicians was a draw. Most of the people out now rarely do extended solos or anything else. Here, they were the highlight, the draw. It reminded me of a Zappa show (albeit with more melody), and that truly gives one faith.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

OMG you got to see Ben Lee - i'm very jealous! Also, have you heard the few songs Ben Lee, Ben Folds and Ben Kwelter did as part of a band called, "The Bens"? If not, seek it out :)