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By Jess Peregoy jep024@latech

By Jess Peregoy 


Once the doors opened and the eager crowd filled the Thomas Assembly Center on April 21, the anticipation was thick for who was about to take the stage.

Ben Folds’ glistening piano sat on the stage untouched in the middle of a floor that Tech’s basketball teams know so well.

Upon further inspection, one could see the wear and tear of Folds’ musical antics and an indication of what the night would soon hold.

Once the show began, the crowd was in Folds’ hands for the rest of the night. As he played jazzy interludes the band effortlessly followed, cracked jokes and sang his hits.

 The audience became as important to the atmosphere as Folds himself.

Union Board put on the show as  its annual spring concert.

“He really seemed like he enjoyed being here,” John Lary, Union Board president and a graduate of history student, said.

Folds opened the show with songs off of his latest album, “Songs for Silverman,” and led the audience through his set filled with songs off of his first solo record, “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” his smash hit “Brick” and even a cover of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit.”

Folds interacted with the crowd by playing his own rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’sFreebird” after Shreveport crowd participant Brittney Maddox’s bra being tossed on stage.

“I didn’t throw it on the stage myself, but I figured since he already saw it, I might as well let him know it was me,” Maddox said.

Maddox said she has been a fan of Folds for years and after being invited on stage by him to direct the audience during “Army,” it was nothing less than a dream come true to her.

“I always watch his DVDs [while] dancing around the living room and directing my friends like a choir. It was surreal to be doing it in front of Ben Folds,” Maddox said.

The concert, even though it took place in the TAC, felt intimate, and it was. Folds had come to Tech to play for students with a set lasting two and a half hours.

Folds never seemed to take a break; he never got tired.

He pounded away at his piano, cracked jokes into the microphone and even called William Shatner to leave him a birthday message.

“I can’t believe we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to William Shatner,” Jaimie Heiges, a sophomore at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, said.

Heiges said the concert met all of her expectations and then some more.

“He played for so long and was so entertaining,” Heiges said. “I’ve wanted to see him for years, and I was not disappointed.”

Folds played a few songs without his band mates, bassist Jared Reynolds and drummer Lindsay Jamieson, creating a more subdued, intimate moment and was rejoined by them to finish out the set.

On “Narcolepsy,” Folds, Reynolds and Jamieson had total control of the energy in the TAC.The band went from playing quietly, almost as if it was a lullaby, to punching up the volume and creating a wall of sound with an instant burst of energy and light. Whereas on “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” the trio pulled out all the stops to bring rock ‘n’ roll into the mix and even had Folds on bass.

The 38 year-old husband and father ended the night with “Not the Same” in which he directed the audience to sing along and created a heavenly chorus enough to excite chills and giggles of disbelief at how incredible the night had been.

Folds then left the stage and the crowd wanting more, he returned for two more songs and left the stage after slamming his stool onto the keys- his signature move.

Lary said he felt the night was a success.

“The crowd was into the show and everyone seemed to enjoy it, including Ben Folds,” he said

Lary said Folds was a quiet, mannered, gracious guest.

“After the show, I thanked him for coming to Ruston,” Lary said. “And he said, ‘No thank you for having me.’”

Once again, Folds piano was left unattended and the crowd filtered back into the parking lot, all talking about the concert. It was a night of pure entertainment by this generation’s own Piano Man.

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