Ben Folds

So Ben Folds came to Tech last night. He rocked my socks absolutely off. I was sitting right-center JJ, but I don’t think there’s a bad seat in all of Burruss Auditorium, at least not for a show that big.

The opener was a guy named Eef Barzelay. He’s the frontman of an “alt-country” band called Clem Snide. I haven’t heard the band, but Eef has an interesting sound (and I don’t just mean his name.) It’s quirky. He also covered a bit of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and all of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in his own style which was interesting too. I definitely plan on checking him/them out.

After Eef went off, house lights came up and crew were running around doing those things that crew do before the main act goes on, and the crowd grumbled because that’s what they do. Suddenly the lights go off and “The Final Countdown” comes on. Ben and his accompaniment on bass and drums launch into the first two songs before introducing themselves or saying anything. He made a joke that he would work the keyboard part from “The Final Countdown” into every song, and he did slip it in to the first few but then decided to skip it. He did slip it in though whenever there was a little lull in the show, and it always got laughs.

In my opinion, one of the best parts of a Ben Folds show is the audience participation. The man is as amazing a songwriter as he is a musician, including a number of very interesting harmonies. He had the audience sing backup vocals (and flugelhorns) on a few songs, which was super nifty. There was even a three-part harmony on “Not the Same.”

When he played “Gracie” he started over three times from the middle plus a number of restarts right at the beginning, because people were hooting or hollering at some point. I thought that was adorable. Granted it was annoying, but I was annoyed with the audience, not with Ben. This is a song he wrote for his daughter, and he just wanted to get through it.

While I’m raving, I’ll mention how impressed I was with some improv he did. He just started playing, then started singing about Blacksburg, saying that it had a distinct lack of “black… buildings.” What can you say? The south isn’t known for being especially hospitable towards black… buildings. He also worked in the local pub where he ate, and plugged Gay Awareness Week. Afterwards he asked if it was Gay Awareness Day or week, and said “As long as you’re fighting for some time for recognition, you might as well go for a week.”

So basically that was one of the top two rockinest shows I’ve ever seen. The other one was also a Ben Folds concert.

On a side note, guys yelled “I wanna have your babies” on three occasions, whereas I didn’t hear any girls say that. Now Mr. Folds is married with twin daughters, so I’m afraid these gentlemen are going to be disappointed. It does raise the question though, do more men or women ask to have his babies?

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