I saw Ben Folds with the Houston Symphony a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to write about it until now.
It was awesome and aggravating. Ben Folds is hands-down one of the most talented AND entertaining artists out there right now. There are times when I listen to some of his songs that I feel more Joyful and just downright worshipful than just about any great Smitty moment that I have ever had. And Ben isn't even a Christian. If you find that strange just know that every time you sing "All Creatures of our God and King" know that Ralph Vaughan Williams, a professing Atheist, wrote the melody to that.
Back to the Point.
The guy had the entire crowd singing harmony as an integral part of the songs. Not just harmony but counterpoint. Plus, if I am not mistaken I think he arranged all the orchestral parts himself. Now, I really wish I could have gotten my hands on some of those scores because I think that some of them just sounded muddy and with a little help from some good-ole-fashioned orchestration 101 it could have rocked a little harder in a few parts. Of course that might have been the duller-than-dudu-on-a-stick conductor's fault. I'm SURE he gave it his all in the rehearsals. Besides a little muddiness in the timbres, it was downright impressive. Ben Folds played sang like a free man and the people there were filled to the brim with light by the end.
It was the collision of the two worlds that built a home for my frustration. Well, not a home, more like a fort. You know the ones you used to make in your living room with blankets and...
Anywho, the Orchestra was just stuck up. It really pissed me off. I can't STAND that attitude. The concert-mistress (first violinist, closest to the piano and conductor) was unfortunately juxtaposed to the animated and crazy Ben Folds most of the night on the screen. Her expression resembled a constipated grandmaw who's dog fluffy had just been taken from her because she was so constipated that she couldn't get off the pot to feed the dog anymore. Yeah, something like that.
I just wanted to jump down there and say,
"Excuse me, do you love music? THEN ACT LIKE IT. Just because you are not knee deep in the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Lenny Bernstein winking approvingly at you from the podium as you throw your whole body into glorious scales and arpeggios, ooo-ing and awwww-ing all the rich old farts the Houston Symphony Guild can keep out of the grave, doesn't mean that you can't enjoy yourself while playing with a friggin talented musician in a different genre, ESPECIALLY one who packs out YOUR symphony house which in turn fills YOUR paycheck with extra zeros. So, if you don't want to be here and you can't get the cobb out of your stuck-up arse then get the flippidy-flap of my flippidy-flap stage."
They were thankless. Granted, at one point he did throw his bench at the 120,000-dollar piano, but hey, it was just the cushiony part of the bench and it just bounced off the keys. If it was really a throw, then it was a careful and calculated throw. I've seen WAAAY more damage done in a Bartok piano concerto performance.
He topped it all off by telling his adoring, rowdy fans that they should all make a habit of seeing the symphony play and if they don't it might go away and leave a HUGE void in our society. Pretty cool.
The only other thing that aggravated me more that night was that I missed the first few songs, one of which was "We're Sill Fighting" a song about him and his son. We missed it because the elevator going to the third floor took, no lie, 4 1/2 minutes to get to the top. I could have crawled, backwards, drunk, blind, and paralyzed from the dormant booger in my left nostril down, to the third floor faster. I told the elevator attendant that she could really get some good naptime in between floors if she got sleepy. She didn't find that funny. She was old, and sitting down. I think she had had her fill of smart-mouth whippersnappers for the night.
All in all it was an awesome night, and THE greatest b-day present. I needed that concert.