College Media Network

The Observer

The Student Newspaper of Case Western Reserve University
  • Home
  • News
    • Sports
      • Opinion
        • Focus
          • About Us
            • Info
            • Staff
          • Archives
          • Options
            • Login
            • Register
            • Write to the Editor
            • Syndication
            • Search
          • New Features
            • Plan Spring Break!
            • Learn about your Finances
          • Advertising

          Despite an oppressive crowd and disappointing opener, Ben Folds continues to impress on stage

          Drew Scheeler

          Issue date: 4/23/10 Section: Focus
          • Print
          • Email
          • Page 1 of 1
          Ever the showman, Ben Folds played a sold-out show at Cleveland's House of Blues, performing songs spanning the length of his career, as well as a new song about Bristol Palin's former fiancé.
          Ever the showman, Ben Folds played a sold-out show at Cleveland's House of Blues, performing songs spanning the length of his career, as well as a new song about Bristol Palin's former fiancé.
          [Click to enlarge]
          Over his 15-year career, Ben Folds has crafted a series of punchy, piano-driven rock ballads, and in a recent performance at the House of Blues, he once again demonstrated that a guitarist isn't needed to make music rock. Although his namesake ensemble, the ironically-named trio Ben Folds Five, dissolved 10 years ago, Folds proved that he still has enough 90s-driven angst to sustain his career through this decade and beyond.

          Admittedly, the night started out poorly, as the venue was sold out and packed with as many people as the fire marshals would allow, and the opening act was miserable. Nothing about Matt Pond PA's setlist was noteworthy, as they went through a repertoire of bland, repetitive songs that the audience did not want to hear. The only time they received any favorable response was during a solo by guitarist Chris Hansen: Pond chose to waste time by chugging a Heineken on stage, the only time he received actual applause from the audience that wasn't out of pity.

          The setlist that Folds chose for his Cleveland performance allowed him to both reflect on and shuffle between each period of his career, effortlessly sliding between recent album tracks and more obscure audience suggestions. Not to ignore his earlier work, a few classic singles from his days with the Five were thrown in for good measure, including what Folds reckoned to be his third live performance of "Mess." The second half of the show allowed audience suggestions, which quickly devolved into a shouting match between "Angry Dwarfs" and "Emaline" supporters with a few "Army" sympathizers as well. With Folds's extensive back catalogue available, the audience gravitated towards many of the singles he had chosen to ignore, leading to an inspired performance of "Hiroshima."

          Folds played a handful of new, unreleased songs including "Levi Johnston's Blues," a biographical song about a person "who lives to hang out with the boys, get on his snowboard, do some fishing, and kill some moose." In many ways, this early performance of "Blues" demonstrates a new side to Folds's songwriting. Folds's music has always had an ironic, understated humor aspect to it, but never before has he crafted a song that blatantly relies so much on topical humor. But its catchy melody ultimately redeemed the song, as did the lyrics taken verbatim from Levi's Myspace page.

          The show's primary issue lay not with Folds but with a group of concertgoers who were spewing enough obscenities to make Folds's raucous lyrics sound bland in comparison. Audience participation has always been a trademark of songs such as "Army" and "Not the Same," but Folds took the higher ground and chose to ignore the hecklers, leading the audience in four-part harmony instead. In "Effington," Folds mused. "if there's a God, he's laughing at us and our football team." Judging by audience reaction during Folds's recent set at the House of Blues, there is some divine force looking favorably upon him, even if the crowd was teaming up to drown him out.
          Page 1 of 1

          Article Tools

          Be the first to comment on this story

          In This Issue

          News

          • A Conversation with Caroline Goulding
          • Don't blow it all at once: financial tips for recent graduates
          • International student session to debut during 2010 orientation
          • Name That Place - 4/23/2010
          • Relay For Life raises $76,000, short of goal but not short of spirit
          • Student Leadership Award Winners
          • Tanning dangers abound as summer approaches
          • What Now?
          • Mass funding successful for some, headache for other organizations

          Sports

          • Case falls to Wooster at Progressive Field
          • Spartan Spotlight: Obinna Nwanna
          • Spartans are optimistic heading into UAA's
          • Spartans extend win streak to six
          • Spartans snap long losing streak
          • The next step
          • Top 10 Spartan stories of 2009-2010

          Opinion

          • 2009-2010 Year in Review
          • Letter to the Editor: Straight Answers to Questions about Greek Life Funding
          • Living - and dying - on your own terms
          • The last hurrah: experiencing senior week
          • What are you doing this summer?

          Focus

          • A final fling for finals
          • Despite an oppressive crowd and disappointing opener, Ben Folds continues to impress on stage
          • MaDaCol performance distinguishes dance as alternative communication medium
          • Parting word of advice: Express yourself
          • Springfest blowout to feature activities, student bands and national headlines
          • The best bars in Cleveland
          • Tri-C Jazz Festival features stunning jazz organ performance, among others
          National College Advertising and Marketing | Privacy Policy (9/9/09) | Terms of Use (9/9/09)
          Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (4/27/09) | RSS Terms of Use

          Advertisement

          Poll

          This Week's Front Page

          Download Print Edition PDF

          Advertisement