By Jess Peregoy
Once the doors opened and the eager crowd filled the Thomas
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.
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
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’s
“Freebird” 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
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
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
“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.