Sunday, March 5, 2006

Rockin' The Sea-Town

As you probably know, I had the opportunity to go see Ben Folds last night, downtown at The Paramount theater. Very cool...
Since the show was to start at eight, I headed out at six; giving me the usual two hours to get there, park and find my seat. From the last few concerts downtown I've gone to, it seems to be the perfect time to leave. And getting there was a complete breeze this time. I knew exactly where I was going, where to park and how much the parking would cost. I'm catching on quickly. So it's nice to know on some level that I don't need to worry so much about pre-concert transportation anymore.
I arrived at the Paramount entrance about five minutes before they started letting people in. When they did, I went up to the mezzanine and got a Bacardi to sip on while waiting for the show. I found a nice little spot on the floor to sit and observe people while enjoying my drink. It was quite surprising to see the majority of people were under 20. I expected the audience to be slightly older (mostly 20-30) for some reason. That'll work though... more Bacardi for me. Unfortunately, at $7 for a little cup of mostly ice, they weren't exactly a bargain. So I waited until the show was about to start before having one more.
My seat was in the second row of the first mezzanine. Slightly off to the right side of the theater. Great seat. This is where I like to sit when I go to The Paramount (although I prefer to be as close to center stage as I can get).
The show started with a guy by the name of Chris Mills. He is a solo artist with only an electric guitar at his side. Although he didn't play for very long, I thought his performance was interesting. Simple, yet entertaining. But still, Ben was obviously the star of the show...
Okay, so once again I didn't write down the set list. Besides, most of the night's material was from Ben's solo stuff, which I admit to not having yet. :( But it's definitely some great stuff, so I totally plan on picking whatever he's released very soon. (All I have so far is Ben Folds Five's Whatever And Ever Amen, which is a fantastic album!
Ben was joined by a drummer and a bass player, both of whom joined him to create some impressive three-part harmonies throughout the night. Great musicians! Deep into the set, the other two guys left Ben alone with us to do some softer stuff. A hell of a pianist he is... He did this cool effect where he played with one hand and muted the piano strings with the other; giving his keys this kind of plucking sound that resembled a guitar. Very cool! And he's funny as hell too. At one point, he admitted to worrying about what to say to us in between songs, and how he didn't want to just sound like an asshole.
The greatest part was when the band came back, and Ben talked about his theory of knowing when a song stands up to being a quality one. This, he says, is when you can sing a song out loud in an Irish pub and not get the shit beat out of you by crazy drunks. It was then that they played a soft jazzy cover of the untitled bonus track on Dr. Dre's classic album The Chronic. In which, the audience - the majority of which was under 20 remember - happily sang along to the line "Bitches can't hang with the streets". It was hilarious. Afterwards, Ben talked about how he's been writing a soundtrack to a new movie geared towards a younger generation. The name of the film escapes me at the moment, but he played some interesting stuff from that as well.
During the final song, he had the audience split into groups and singing along with him in three-part harmonies. He got up and stood on his paino to direct us, as a great conductor would. with his hands near his feet, suggesting we start out low, he would slowly raise them until they were high above his head. Playing with our voices for his amusement, as if his hands controled the pitch bar of our collective choir. He even moved his arms up and down quickly after awhile just to fuck with us. lol But we kept right with him. It was awesome. : ) Ranging from low to high, it was really amazing to hear the voices coming from ourselves, a group of everyday people with one thing in common... the love of music. Something about that I found incredibly beautiful and inspiring.
As much as I admire John Lennon (and that's a hell of a lot), I'm beginning to wonder if he was slightly off when he penned All You Need Is Love. Because it seems to me that a more accurate claim would be... all you need is music.
Upon checking Ben's official site before the concert, I noticed that his following performance (actually starting about this very moment) is in a town called Moscow, Idaho. My hometown. How eerie that coincidence is, especially since we hardly ever get any big names to play there. I find that incredibly interesting, yet somehow I'm disappointed I can't be there. I should be.

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