Modesto, CA - Oct 22, 2016

  • 2 Replies
  • 538 Views
Modesto, CA - Oct 22, 2016
« on: October 25, 2016, 04:33:55 PM »
When I posted my review of the Oakland show in 2009 I lamented that I'd missed out on meeting Ben.  It only took me 7 years to correct that.

I got an email a few months ago that VIP packages were available for a show in Modesto, so the rather large ticket price did not dissuade me from purchasing immediately.  Who knows if I'll ever meet Ben again.

Full disclosure, because it's semi-relevant to this: I am a furry.  You're welcome to ask about that separately if you care, if you don't that's perfectly fine too.

Last Saturday was the concert, and since I knew that I'd get a photo op, I'd decided I would try to get a photo in suit (my character is a toony gator) with Ben. I'd spent most of a week trying to rehearse what I'd say to one of my musical idols, and hadn't really figured it out yet.

About 20 people had apparently purchased the VIP package, and we were let into the roughly 1000 seat theater to sit in the first two rows where Ben and a music teacher moderator were sitting on stage. I sat in the first row, right in front of Ben. He looked a lot like Hugh Laurie in House with his beard.  I cannot believe he's 50.

The Q & A was interesting, and I did get a chance to ask Ben a question about the fact that he collaborates a lot with other musicians, and was that because it was easier to write songs with others, or more because it was more fun and enjoyable to work with people he admired. He said that he viewed most of his work as a collaboration because even when he was doing "solo" work he still had to work with his studio musicians or producers, etc.

The last question of the day came from a woman who stood up and said that she had come a very long way for the event (London, Shanghai, can't remember but it was far) because the event was titled "Ben Folds Master Class" and she thought that meant you'd get to play your work for Ben and get a critique (which is what a master class is, but this was clearly explained to be more of a Q & A session).

Even though time was limited, Ben was very gracious in allowing this woman to play her song on the piano which was already set up on the stage. It was actually really good, and everyone applauded robustly when she finished, and Ben even gave a fairly comprehensive if somewhat confusing assessment.

Apparently, the woman is Kate Torralba, and the song was Pictures, and she's been performing it elsewhere for a while, cause I found this YouTube video of her performing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf1Hmjpq7mY - definitely worth checking out!

After the impromptu performance, things were running a bit behind and the meet & greet photo op portion started. I decided to go to the end of the line, since it might take me slightly longer than others to get ready, plus frankly I was hoping to draw as little attention as possible. The woman next to me was very curious about what I had it the bag, and when I told her it was a gator, she had eighty million questions about it, so I constructed a story that was more true than not while steering away from furry. Fortunately, I managed to enlist her to help take a photo with my phone.

Finally it was my turn, and since curious woman seemed a little nervous about how long I was going to take to get my costume on (all 10 whole seconds of that) I abandoned my plan of introducing myself and saying a few words before suiting up and just put my paws on before walking up to Ben and shaking his hand. Ben said, "oh, I thought maybe you had a phobia about shaking hands."

I said something like "Hey Ben, can I get a photo in costume...y'know, in honor of Halloween" or something equally bland while putting the head on quickly. There was a person with a real camera taking pics so they could be posted after the event, which was considerate of them but also probably intended as a time-saving measure.

Before the photo, Ben said something about once losing a race to someone in a costume, but I was too nervous to catch exactly what it was. I heard someone I couldn't see say "are you sure that's just a [Halloween] costume?" but I didn't hear the F word.

I quickly grabbed the black and white photo of Ben they'd given us to have signed and asked Ben to sign it to Croc. He gave me a briefly confused look and started to write "K-" and I said "you know, like a crocodile". Let's just say it was not the neatest of autographs.

And just like that it was done, probably a grand total of a minute and a half. I grabbed my phone from the woman I'd given it to and made my way offstage.

Then it was immediately onto soundcheck, where Ben decided he would take requests and then play about a minute of each. I had wanted to hear Ben play the soundtrack song "Air" forever, but he never did, so I yelled it out and he gamely attempted it. Amusingly he had to fumble through it at first and then midway through the first verse forgot all the lyrics, so he started making them up "..can't re-mem-ber all the...ly-rics.." It wouldn't be the first time he fumbled with one of his songs, but I found that strangely endearing instead of frustrating. Because of the relatively intimate setting it felt sort of like hanging out with a good friend who is messing around on the piano.

They ushered us out of the theater to finish up soundcheck, and we waited about 30 minutes to re-enter.

The opening act was a nice, attractive guy from Modesto named Aaron Durr. He played his set on an electric keyboard instead of the piano, and his music was funky, soulful pop. I liked all of his songs, "16 Seconds", "Smart Girl" and "Get Up Get Out". It was pretty short set and then Ben came out.

"I make it out to Modesto about once every 12 years," he said. "Just like some of you." This got a big laugh, since Modesto is not exactly conveniently located next to other major cities. He played 2 sets of about 10 songs a piece and frequently gave little stories before songs.

Capable of Anything
Annie Waits
The Last Polka
Selfless, Cold & Composed
Bastard
Not A Fan


Ben told a story about earlier in his career, when a fan had somehow gotten past security right before one of his shows to inquire about the meaning "Brick". The guy was covered in tattoos and muscular, and said he was not a fan, but his girlfriend was. A short awkward conversation ensued and suddenly he did something and Ben's manager/security grabbed the guy, who apparently had a knife. Since Ben wasn't stabbed, they played the show. Everyone assumed he would play Brick here, but instead he played a song from his most recent album called "Not A Fan".

The Bitch Went Nuts (Fake)

Most of you guys know the story of this track already, but I've never heard an audience laugh so much during a pop song.

Zak & Sara
Landed
You Don't Know Me
Uncle Walter


The first set ended and Ben explained that for the second set, they would have pieces of paper outside for fans to write song requests on, which they would then fold into paper airplanes and throw toward the stage. Ben would randomly choose planes from the stage to determine his 2nd half set list.

I wrote "Sports & Wine" and my airplane landed right by the piano, but all the planes Ben chose were way off on the edges of the stage. 

Mess
Still Fighting It
The Luckiest
Army
November Rain


Ben apparently did not know the song by Guns-n-Roses, but of course that just made it better. His version consisted mainly of repeating the title in various ways, although he got a laugh when he threw in a joke about how it never rains in November or any other month in California. After the brief song ended, he decided he wasn't quite done with it yet and taught the audience a 3 part harmony which he then played a bit more over.

Gracie
Not The Same
Draw A Crowd


Ben had to go back to his huge notebook of songs to remember this track. I actually didn't remember it at first but I'm not sure if that was because he wasn't quite playing it right. He joked that his attempt was not good enough to count toward the set list.

Effington
One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces
What Is Your Room Number


For the last song in the second set, Ben said "This isn't a song, but..." and immediately made up a song with lyrics about how it was the last song and he enjoyed playing to Modesto and the chorus was "the note said.... What.......is.......your......rooooom number.." which got a huge laugh.

Ben thanked the audience, bowed and left. The audience applauded wildly until he came back for a one song encore, Kate. Toward the second half I heard many of the people near me singing along, but the speaker was directly in front of us so you could safely sing as loud as you wanted and people would barely be able to hear it.

Of all the times I've seen Ben, I think this might have been best, I definitely had the best seats, front row left center.  But more than that the set list was great, and his wit was definitely on point.  Ben certainly looks older now, but so am I.  I'm thinking back to it a few days later and parts of it almost doesn't seem real.  I'll never forget it though.  :)

*

Offline Allison

  • *
  • 8200
  • Gender: Female
Re: Modesto, CA - Oct 22, 2016
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2017, 02:01:50 PM »
Setlist is updated in the archive. Thanks for the review.... what's with the crocodile??

http://thesuburbs.org.uk/tour/20161022/Modesto
mel (1:10:14 AM): love ben folds or burn!

Re: Modesto, CA - Oct 22, 2016
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 04:36:12 PM »
Thanks for the review.... what's with the crocodile??

He looks better in photos than I do, and the look on Ben's face was priceless. ;D