Monday, November 20, 2006

Rockin' Manhattan

So, as you know if you've been regularly following the action here at 10 Cent Freeze Pops, Hadley and I were at the Hammerstein Ballroom last night for the Ben Folds show. Personally, this was my second time seeing him live. The first time was last year at Radio City. On that occasion, Folds was his usual brilliant self but the large-room atmosphere and building-imposed curfew (to say nothing of the Pats getting corked at home by Indy on the same night) conspired against him. No such problems for this go-around. This time was just absolutely tremendous.

Some of the highlights...

-The set list was phenomenal. Ben played his staples from recent shows (like Trusted, Cooler, Gone, Learn To Live, Bitches, Army, etc, etc...) but he also threw in some great wild cards (like Still Fighting It, Boxing, Last Polka, Losing Lisa, Best Imitation & One Down).

-The atmosphere in the Ballroom was excellent. There were plenty of cameras in the crowd so I'm hoping some bootleg footage starts showing up on Youtube soon. (The cameras are kind of a mixed blessing by the way...very cool to get that footage when it pops up but a bit obnoxious to have so many people taking pictures and vids all night.) The audience participation on Army and Not The Same was top notch. But it was there all night.

-"Did Dr. Dre really write this song?" Actual quote, overheard by Hadley, from a girl standing behind us in reaction to Bitches Ain't Shit. Yes, Virginia. He really did.

-Watching Folds work the piano (plus the synth and a maraca) from close range. We were about 8-deep right behind him so we had a great view all night. On songs like Dr. Pyser and All U Can Eat he was going crazy at the end. And on a song like Narcolepsy, where he goes from banging the crap out of the piano with his elbow to playing beautiful little classical-feeling parts without breaking stride, you really get a full appreciation for his talent.

Overall, definitely one of the most enjoyable shows I've seen. About the only criticism I can think of was that it ended somewhat abruptly with just one encore. I would've been happy to stay for more. But other than that, it was great.


I wholeheartedly endorse this review....some other highlights:

-a group of 14 year olds having an ecstatic time fueled, well, by ecstasy. This included a group nap between Corn Mo's opening set and Ben's set.

- Corn Mo was extremely interesting. Best way to describe him without seeing him is he's a very talented, full band version of Tenacious D without the direct comedy schtick. Huge vocal presence. Looks like Meat Loaf. Really interesting. I like opening acts that push the envelope.

- Clarke and I were in the Top 5% age bracket. I would feel weird if we were seeing Brooke Hogan. But, please, this is a piano-lyricist in his mid 30s who is writing about growing old, his kids, his marriage, his divorce (first marriage), his parting of ways with old friends...good for Ben because he's making cash, but how does that remotely resonate with a high school student? "I got you to thank for this" is a line about a couple who married too soon and found out the hard way, not a prom date gone bad. That works in the cafeteria? I don't get it.

-That being said, there were two guys in our vicinity who were easily 8 years older than us who were there to pick up high school chicks. They were not smooth. It's not like they were even bad looking guys, they just had no game. First of all, they didn't know any of Folds' stuff. That stands out like a sore thumb at a Folds show. Folds fans don't look for the hits and then lay back when lesser known tracks are played. The entire show is generally devoured and the energy level never dips. These guys were just out of their element. It was great.

- My feet are still hurting. GA floor has its benefits, but the pain comes along with it.

- Don't get the Mini Burgers at the Andrews Diner across the street from the Hammerstein.

- I'd see Ben once a month. Not an issue. He's that good. Can't wait to take the girls...just need to wait for Ms. Hadley to decide when it's appropriate to subject them to Bitches Ain't Shit. I say 4 years old is fine.


Hadley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clarke said...

Amen to the pain in the feet. Everything below my knees is killing me.

And amen to not getting the mini-burgers from that diner. Worst. Mini-burgers. Ever.

Hadley said...


AMAZING Opening!

In Between Days*

Theme From Dr. Physer/Misralou (sp?)
"Hammerstein" **
Cooler Than You
Losing Lisa
All U Can Eat
Learn to Live With What You Are
Annie Waits
Santa hat thrown to stage inspires Bizarre Christmas Incident (with lyric help from the audience)
You to Thank/spagehetti improv
Still Fighting It
Bitches Ain't Shit

Last Polka
Best Imitation of Myself
One Down

Such Great Heights
Zak and Sara
Not the Same


See you all tomorrow!

- "Ben", "Jared" and "Lindsay" came out and started the show. The song started to skip (think Ashlee Simpson). "Ben" restarted the song, only to have it skip worse than before, sooner into the song. "Security" came out and dragged off the three imposteres, with the real Ben Folds clocking the "Ben"
* - an improv German-sounding tune celebrating our venue. At end of song Ben told a story of his two childhood friends who were the two Double-Mint Girls, and hadn't see in each other in 20 years, who were reunited at the show (dogs, lost lips and many other details I'll leave out for now)- another goof. It was likely inspired by the PR people handing out free packs of DM at the corner of 34th and 8th. hate to think Ben has sold out and this was product placement...