Monday, September 22, 2008

Tales From the South - The Show!

I'm going to give up on the running diary and just get to the goods here. At this point it is late Thursday afternoon and we have showered, changed our clothes and freshened up and we are ready to head up to Chapel Hill. For those of you not that interested in college sports, Chapel Hill, NC is the home of the UNC Tarheels the dreaded rivals of Duke. I thought about wearing some of my newly purchased Duke paraphernalia but cooler heads prevail. I decide to go with a home made Ben Folds Five t-shirt that I made 5 years ago. I realize it is a big concert no no to wear the shirt of the band you are going to see. However, I feel like if it is your favorite band of all time, reunited, and the shirt is home made and obscure then go for it. Speaking of obscure, Vanwarmer had decided to make himself a t-shirt as well - a picture of the real Reinhold Messner, just his face, no words, nothing else. More on that later.

We arrive in Chapel Hill without incident and Vanwarmer drops me off in front of the venue and goes to find parking. I find myself pacing in front of the venue, looking at all of the people. Are they really fans? From whence have they came? The only observation I come up with is this - Ben Folds Five fans are not very attractive.

Vanwarmer returns and we decide to go find some highly caffeinated (but legal) beverages to make sure that we are not fatigued for the show. We begin to cut across the street but Vanwarmer pauses and says, "Let's head up this street instead." I'm not sure if it was fate or the Universe or if something whispered sweet nothings to Vanwarmer but we headed north instead of east. We walk for a few minutes and then I stop dead in my tracks. Walking right past us in the opposite direction is none other than Darren Jessee the drummer of Ben Folds Five. I've always had a soft spot for Darren because once at the X96 BASH he went out of his way to sign an autograph for Flanksteak and Big Al so I knew he'd be a cool guy. However, he was walking with a lady friend and I didn't want to bother them. We proceeded to follow them back to the side of the venue and then Darren kissed his lady and bid her adieu. "Darren!" Vanwarmer half shouted at Darren. He turned and we approached him. He was his usual cool self, engaged in a short conversation with us where I basically just gushed about my man love for him and his bands. We then got some photos and wished him luck with the show.

It is difficult to see but please note that Darren placed his hand on my back ever so gently.

You can see in this pic Vanwarmer's home made Messner t-shirt. As Darren shook our hands and walked away he said, "That's a great shirt..." to Vanwarmer which made his efforts to create said shirt even better. Always good when the band gets the joke.

So we get to our seats and soon after Darren comes out. His band Hotel Lights is opening the show, which is really just him and one other guy. Darren plays his heart out. Hotel Lights is very singer/songwriter quiet stuff. For some reason either the crowd doesn't realize that this is Darren Fn Jessee of the band that they have come to see or they are just rude, but they talked and talked over his set as if he were some random opening act. I was VERY angry about that. It didn't damper my mood, luckily. During his last song I decide to try and take a short video clip on my phone. Immediately a security guard rushes up the stairs to my seat and takes my phone away. Awesome. I have now lost communication with Wheels. Again, not going to put a damper on my night.

About 20 min later the moment finally arrives. Ben Folds, Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge walk out to a standing ovation. At least the crowd is into it now. Without many words or fanfare the boys take their instruments and break into the familiar intro to "Narcolepsy." Ben plays softly on the piano and then Robert on his bass and Darren jump in with a loud crescendo. At this point I am honestly choking back tears. I never thought I would be able to see these 3 play together as a cohesive unit. I have seen Ben Folds Five 7 times (before this show) and seen Ben solo and with other band members at least 7 more. However, there is nothing quite like seeing them play together. Each band member has a different personality that brings something to the table. Their harmonies are unbelievable and their talent is without peer (granted I'm biased) but anyone who sees Ben Folds Five in person is immediately won over.

The boys proceeded to play the entire Reinhold Messner album. One of the highlights of the night was when Ben's dad, Dean Folds, wandered out with a notecard and read word for word a rambling answering machine message that he had left over ten years on Ben's machine. It was hilarious but also a little touching (you can see that I was an emotional roller coaster at this point).

After a short break they returned to play some additional hits and favorites. I can't complain about the setlist. Of course I would have wanted them to keep playing. 3 days later if they had continued playing I'd still be there. Truly an amazing experience. The greatest musical experience and frankly a top 5 non musical experience, of my life. I'd like to get into more detail but I realize that most of the readers of the Skog Blog have no real connection with Ben Folds Five and perhaps wouldn't understand. However, if anyone wants to wax poetic about the love of a band send me an email and I'll bore you with all of the details.

Here is the setlist:

Set list
The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner"Narcolepsy" "Don't Change Your Plans" "Mess" "Magic" "Hospital Song" "Army" "Your Redneck Past" "Your Most Valuable Possession" "Regrets" "Jane" "Lullabye"
[Break for three minutes]
"Jackson Cannery" "Eddie Walker" "Selfless, Cold & Composed" "Battle of Who Could Care Less" "Where's Summer B.?""Julianne""Song for the Dumped"

As stated above, the venue was CRRRRAZY about cameras so I obviously didn't get any pics of my own. Here are some taken by Emily Shur of the Independent Weekly paper based in Durham, NC.

I want to publicly thank Corbie for her generosity. Without her I wouldn't have been able to go and although she tries to play it cool about it, her kindness needs not be hidden behind the scenes on this one. And of course, special thanks to Wheels for allowing me to leave for the time of my life while she stayed home with two ornery kids. Love you Wheels... And once again I would like to say to everyone here as Ben sings at the end of Lullabye, "Good night, good night sweet baby... the world has more for you... than it seems, good night, good night... Let the moonlight take the lid off your dreams."

(I'll told you I'd get cheesy if I kept going... Ok I'm done now.)


brohammas said...

Hats off to you my man. I salute you, an angry dwarf dancing on your bed to Ben while all i want is to sleep in a little longer (spoken while holding a bottle of Stewarts Key Lime soda in the air).

Corbie said...

So, as it relates to music, I have had this same kind of happy inebriation twice in my life. Once was hearing the first few notes of Simon and Garfunkel playing live. The second was seeing Dan Fogelberg at Park West/Wolf Mountain/The Canyons (whatever it was at the time) over a dozen years ago. Wait, did I just say Dan Fogelberg? Where am I? I thought this was the Monday night confessional post. Oh well, the cat is out of the bag.

Glad you guys had fun - love the shirts.

Vanwarmer said...

Corbie, I was at the same S and G concert in Vegas (With KG and Wheels) and that is EXACTLY what it felt like. Incredible! Kirk is correct in that the universe smiled on us in many ways throughout the trip. Free shirts at the concert! A chat with the drummer! No natural disasters in our path! A fantastic time.

Rob said...

I am so genuinely stoked for you I'm teary eyed. Seriously I can't believe how excited I am that it all fell into place and you had a positive life altering event. Thanks for being there.

Anonymous said...

Good Grief. Those boys have not aged well at all. Physically that is. I'm sure musically they are still in their young 20's. Duke was pretty bad ass. I can't wait for my inevitable trip to mecca. I just need to find friends like yours. My friends won't even buy my dinner on my birthday.

Herms said...

Really looking forward to the myspace debut. I plan to stay up late and watch it in the basement on 92 inches of pure panasonic projection goodness.

I am glad you recognized Darren because i may have walked right past him.

Very cool trip!

Anonymous said...

Word! Congratulations on such a killer life experience...shoot me an e-mail with all the gory details.