Ben Folds stormed through new and old songs at SUNY Brockport on Sunday evening, rocking a crowd composed mainly of students. Older fans could be spotted on the outskirts of the crowd, along with those who were decked out in Halloween costumes too delicate for the masses.
Colorado-based band, The Fray, revved the audience for Folds with their alternative rock tunes and their interactions with the audience. Although many of the songs were mellow, the lyrics that keyboarder and singer Isaac Slade passionately sung effectively captured the attention of the audience.
After a short set change, which included the arrival of Folds’ piano with great applause from the audience, Folds took the stage with his touring band composed of a bassist and drummer.
The theme of the evening soon became the poor acoustics in the gym.
“I’ve never heard a better sounding gym,” Folds said after the first few songs. He later returned to the subject saying, “Not only do you get to hear two bands for the price of one, but you also get to hear every song twice. Everything that we play up here bounces off the back wall,” he continued, while pointing to the stage and then the back wall.
While the echoes and overall sound quality were disappointing, Folds played a great show that can best be described in three parts – the new songs, Folds without the band and the hits.
The New Songs
Folds opened his set with two songs from his April 2005 release “Songs For Silverman.” “Bastard” and “Late” engulfed the attention of new fans in addition to those who had been waiting to hear the new album live since its release.
While some older songs like “Annie Waits,” “Still Fighting It” and “All You Can Eat” made their way into the setlist, Folds used the beginning of the set to rehearse his new album live.
“I would have liked to hear some older stuff in the beginning,” senior Danielle Ford said. “But, I am glad that he played ‘Landed.'” “Landed,” the single off of “Songs For Silverman,” scored Folds airtime on major radio stations this summer and received great applause from the audience.
Folds Without the Band
Even though Folds had a supporting band, it became increasingly evident that the audience was there for the Ben Folds show. In ditching the band, Folds was able to play mellower songs that would have been ruined by the presence of a bass or a drum. During this segment, Folds floated through lullabies like “Brick,” “Gracie” and “Lullabye.”
He later picked up the pace with the popular “Army.”
“This song is dedicated to all of you who are in ROTC to get through college,” Folds said before playing the song. While he jammed on the piano, Folds split the audience into two parts and had them sing rounds of “ba’s,” in rhythm with the melody of the song.
After serenading and energizing the audience by creating a chorus out of them, there was nothing left to do but further elate them through popular tunes like “Zak and Sara,” “Rockin’ the Suburbs” and “Philosophy.”
However, it wasn’t until the second encore, “Not the Same,” that Folds showed his unparalleled talent as a performer. In the last few moments of the song, Folds jumped on top of his piano where he, once again, conducted the audience as a chorus. The song ended, not with his own voice, but with a faint “ba” from the audience – truly illustrating Folds’ ability to connect with his audience.
“I haven’t been to a concert in a long time,” senior Margot Jacobs said. “Ben really reminded me of why I love live music.”
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