Cherry Blossoms

Here is a picture of our cherry tree in full blossom. Those little flowers will all fall off in the next few days, and sometime in the middle of next month that same tree will be covered by swarms of birds chowing down on thousands of Rainier Cherries that are too high for us to pick.

Last night, Jen and I went to Tacoma to see Ben Folds play at University of Puget Sound. I have always managed to miss his shows, and have literally driven past one accidently. So it was a pleasure to actually see him live.

It was at a college, which if you didn’t know, are full of college age people. So, the bulk of the audience was made up of people ages 18-22. I turn 28 this week, and I don’t think that I am that old. But damn, they are sure making college kids look a lot younger these days.

It is trippy to think that when 10 years ago, I was 18 and in college, and these kids were 8, and in 2nd grade. I realize that math is a bit fuzzyish, but as I get farther along in my own degree at Seattle U, that statistic will be scarier and scarier, I reckon.

The show itself was worth the wait and the $25. Ben Lee, an Australian pop-folk singer charmed the heck out of the kids, as well as the shirts of some frat guys. He had stated that in the spirit of inclusion, he would sign all breast, female or male.

Meh. Whatever. I wasn’t there to see him and he played an innocent 40 minutes or so.

After about 20 minutes of set up, Ben Folds came out with his band, a drummer and a bassist, and reeled off a solid 75 minutes of rock. I have been a fan of his work for a while now, and even have his work with Fear of Pop and that brilliant Shatner album from a few year ago. So sitting in the overheated UPS Fieldhouse, watching a performer I haven’t ever seen was really a treat.

His set list felt like he was playing a lot of newer stuff that I was unfamiliar with, including some tracks from a forthcoming album he said would be released in the fall. He used and abused his piano, using pan lids and altoids tins to create unique noises and sounds to add to his songs.

At one point he had a secret special guest, Moby, who proceeded to walk out looking like Phil Collins, and then play some strange solo during a song, and then disappear. It was neat that they are friends, and odd that he was in Tacoma, but it seemed pretty superfluous – Kinda like when Liz Taylor voiced Maggie Simpson’s first word.

Ben Folds was dorky and funny. At one point he began a 4 minute extremely technical explanation of music theory and jazz theory, ending that it was pretty much only good to use to make cheesy lounge music.

After he left for his first act, after violently throwing his stool into the piano, followed by 4 minutes of 19 year olds who didn’t have to work the next day shrieking, the band returned to play an encore set, which included some necessary classics like Kate and the rockin anthem of Narcolepsy.

The whole evening ended in one of the strangest musical displays I have ever seen. Ben Folds stood up, and asked for the audience to help sing the last song, and gave another geeky technical explanation for the three part harmonies he was looking for from the crowd (apparently Gymnasiums are acoustically well suited for this ). During the song, he would point to the crowd during their part, and amazingly the audience remembered exactly their particular portion of the harmonies to a pretty stunning auditory experience.

After the song was over, Folds then stood up, and directed different sides of the auditorium to sing that part again, like you would get people to over lap Row Row Your Boat in time. Then he got creative and had the two sides to sing at strange tempos and times, competeing and following his direction, to the ultimate collaboration of the crowd, then, like a conductor, waived his hands, and there was silence.

He raised his hands up, smiled, bowed, and walked away, the crowed erupted in applause and then the house lights came on.

Pretty cool. I have been to countless shows, and I have to say that was the most entertaining end I can remember.

Bravo, Mr Folds. I will see you next time, even if I am driving accidentally past your performance.

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