In Brooklyn for Ben

The Prospect Park bandshell & stage.
The stage at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park
Originally uploaded by rubronc014.

Well, Thursday was an eventful day…around 2 p.m., I learned that I am no longer a part-time employee of The Sports Network…long story, which I won’t share here.

I felt bad about what happened, but a good ol’ Ben Folds show Thursday night in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park really hit the spot. Unfortunately, the train to Newark, NJ, ran late and I didn’t get to Katie’s apartment in Lower Manhattan until about 6:30 p.m. We took the subway to Brooklyn (took the 2 up to 14th St. and switched to the Brooklyn-bound F train, which lets you off at a station just a couple of blocks from the park’s bandshell…oh, Katie and I saw our first NYC subway rat while waiting for the F train…very memorable moment) and didn’t get to the park until after opener Ben Lee performed. I would have liked to have seen him, but it just didn’t work out.

So we got on the ridiculously long food line, but what was good about it is that there really was no gouging going on. A hot dog was $2 and a bottled water or Snapple was $2 so that was cool of the nice people of Prospect Park. Rufus Wainwright was next with his hour or so set, which was entertaining. I like Rufus as a songwriter, but he can be rather depressing…and I was already somewhat depressed by The Sports Network stuff. Well, some of the set was down, but he did a fair number of “up” tracks so that was nice.

Ben Folds came on last and it was evident a few measures into “Bastard” that something was a bit off. Well, Ben revealed that he woke up that morning with laryngitis, but that there was “no way (he) was going to cancel a New York show.” So he pressed on with his set…what a trooper! Even though he still sounded fine except for a few vocal parts he couldn’t reach and a few missed notes on the piano (which I’m chalking up to the laryngitis throwing Ben off his game a bit), Ben must have felt bad about his sub-par performance and said, “You know what? I’m coming back to New York later this year to play Radio City Music Hall and I’ll play a shit-load of songs that night.” He threw in the comment “I’ll play for three hours,” a promise of which Katie and I will remind him when that night comes (I’m hoping that Radio City show includes some classics like “Jackson Cannery,” “Where’s Summer B.?” and “Alice Childress”).

At one point, since his voice was so shot, Ben decided to do a Tom Waits-inspired jazz improv thing midway through the show…very cool.

The fun part of the evening was when Ben shot scenes for the “Bastard” video. The premise of the video apparently will have Ben going on his 25th anniversary comeback tour…as a metal act. Some Spinal Tap-looking guys came out and pretended to be Ben’s band while the audience did its best impersonation of the crowd in Motley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” video…just without the breast flashing 😉

Watch the short video I took of Ben with his “reunion metal band.”

Ben left the stage after “One Angry Dwarf…” and some of the house lights came on, but it became apparent Ben was going to soldier on and come out for one more song. After a few minutes, Ben appeared on stage alone and proceeded to perform “Underground” with the crowd helping him along with the vocal parts with which he was struggling.

Ben’s set list:

Bastard
Consider You Gone
Zak and Sara
Jesusland
You To Thank
Still Fighting It
Jazz Improv feat. Ben’s new “Tom Waits voice”
All U Can Eat
Landed
Bitches Ain’t Shit
Late
Philosophy
(Video Shoot)
Not the Same
One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

Encore:
Underground (Ben solo)

Of course, thanks to a “police action” on the PATH lines, I missed the 12:59 a.m. train back to Hamilton, NJ, out of Newark Penn Station and had to sit around there for almost an hour for the next one. As a result, I didn’t get home until nearly 4 a.m.

Hopefully, that won’t happen Monday night when I return to the city to see Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Glen Phillips and Marc Broussard at Webster Hall.

I’m so glad Katie (I won’t even say what she was doing in that picture) is back on the East Coast…she’s been in NYC for less than a month and — after Monday — we will have already been to a Carson Daly taping and three live shows!

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