BenFolds Five, November 22, 1997. La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
One of my favorite bands, Ben Folds Five, has a unique pop sound with an interestinglineup, excluding a lead guitar. The exciting riffs come from Ben Folds playing a grandpiano (imagine touring with one of those). This is the third time I've seen them live(check reviews for their shows at Urban Art Bar and Atlanta Midtown Festival), and this time was as great as theothers. BFF, from Chapel Hill, NC, has two CDs, their first self-titled and the mostcurrent, "Whatever and Ever Amen". Both describe feelings of angst and despairabout not fitting in, relationships gone astray, love, and friendship. They combinepleasant melodies with interesting chord progressions and sensitive lyrics to deliver asound that is unique, yet familiar. Some songs are high energy, like the upbeat"Underground" or ballads, like my personal favorite, the hauntingly beautiful"Brick". Both of these songs were played this evening, as well as otherfavorites including One Angry Dwarf, Battle of Who Could Care Less, Kate, and Selfless,Cold, and Composed. From their first album, they also resurrected Jackson Cannery,Philosophy, and Uncle Walter. This group, composed of Ben Folds on piano, Robert Sledge onbass guitar (occasionally playing it like a lead guitar) and cello, and Darren Jesse ondrums, has a unique way of making the nerdy seem cool. They have the ability to appeal tothe misfit in everyone and leave you cheering for the underdog.
They have excellent stage rapport with the audience, often feeling like you are justhanging around, goofing off with them. Early in the show, Ben held up his water bottle,and a fan yelled "Water Rules". That became the theme of the evening. Also, Benwas describing their style, which due to the piano, many felt was like Billy Joel. Bendeclared that they had southern roots and were more like the Allman Bros., except withoutas many people. Later in the show, they lit into several bits of covers includingHendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive".Obviously having fun with this, this band is starting to get some major recognition, asthey were on David Letterman recently and will appear on Saturday Night Live this weekend.Check them out. They are something special.
On That Note, I'm outta here......
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