ben folds show in Easton, PA, april 10th, 2008

Audio isn’t great, but it’s the best version of Free Coffee I could find. There’s an aluminum cake pan in the piano as well as a distortion pedal. He didn’t mess it up last night, like in the clip, thankfully.

Quick (hopefully) post about last night’s ben folds concert at lafayette college in easton, PA. I’ve been to six Ben Folds concerts now (since 2001 and most of them were relatively close to where i was at the time, but yes, it’s still a lot), and I’d probably rank this as the second best of them all, with last year’s Muhlenberg show taking the top spot. Reasoning for this is that the drumer and bassist add so much more to the sound, both instrumentally and vocally, and both of these past two shows didn’t require me to sit through rufus wainwright sucking the energy out of the crowd.

Granted, we had to sit through an equally ill-picked opening act (the same as muhlenberg), a solo guitar player/”singer” whose songs consisted of mostly playing the same chord over and over again arhythmically, droning on and on about there being “evil in the world” until the words had no meaning, all while basically looking like Sam Rockwell doing his best Crispin Glover impression. He also seemed to be drunk?

Mr. Folds (as the New York Times would say), put on his normal, energetic show for about an hour and forty five minutes, adding new bits to established songs, and going back to the beginning of the catalogue, including seven Ben Folds Five songs, and playing four new songs. Apparently, they just finished recording the new album; didn’t say anything about release dates. Overall, just a fast-paced, awesome show. Also of note, t-shirts being sold read “I [Heart]ed Ben Folds… before he sucked”.

Setlist (I felt like a nerd writing the song titles down, and I probably was right in feeling that way) below.

New Song– Didn’t hear the title or any of the words really. Possibly “Brainwashed”
Gone
Hiroshima– New song about falling off a stage in Japan and doing the show with a concussion.
Bastard– That vocal part in the middle (adjusted from the album to suit three people, still sounding like more) is ridiculous
Still Fighting It
Free Coffee– New song. Played with a cake pan inside the piano, and a distortion pedal on some of the keys. Really interesting sound.
You to Thank– Went to the 70s sounding keyboard to the side of the piano for part of the solo, and was actually playing tough parts on both at the same time, angled ninety degrees apart, for a bit.
Landed– Cameo by some tambourine player got major cheerage.
Annie Waits
B*tches aint Sh*t
Lullabye (rest of the band stepped down for this and luckiest)
Luckiest
Narcolepsy– Maybe the best version of this I’ve heard. Especially effective after the quiet sap-fest “Luckiest” (not that it’s bad, it’s just quiet and sappy). Narcolepsy was long, loud, and with a good bit of jamming in the middle.
Army– Didn’t teach the audience the horn parts, but just kinda pointed, expecting them.
Kate
Rockin’ The Suburbs– Claimed it was originally going to be about Bob Seger beating someone up with tire chains for robbing an old lady.
Underground
Zak and Sara
One Angry Dwarf– These last two are the normal, fast paced closers, amping up the energy until he throws the stool at the piano.

Encore
Effington– New Song. Nice three-part a cappella opening. Something about “If there’s a god, he’s laughing at us and our football team”. Kinda sounded like a school fight song. Tambourine player reappeared to applause.
Philosophy– with the normal stuff added at the end.
Not the Same– w/ audience vocals.

****½
Four and a half stars. Minus half for the draining opening act, the smallest crowd, and possibly least interested (though that’s not to say they didn’t bring the applause, maybe just didn’t feel like singing) I’ve seen for a show, and opening his set with a new song that nobody knew.

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2 Comments

  1. Did you ever get a chance to see him with “the five”? I was fortunate enough to catch them twice on the Rheinholdt Mesner tour. It seems arbitrary and maybe a tad back-in-my-day-y to say so, but I always found him to be at his best with Sledge and Jessee… why? I do not know. Maybe it was because they all seemed more inclined to breaking things while on stage.

  2. unfortunately, i’d gotten into them in like 1999-2000 or somewhere there abouts, and it was just as the group was breaking up. i’ve seen crazy concert video of them, and i think i probably would have rather seen all three of them playing than the guys now. not that these guys aren’t good, but other than the traditional stool throwing, everything at the concerts i’ve been to since then have been relatively mellow compared to the video of “song for the dumped” from “sessions at west 54th”.

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