Me & Ben

This post is about why being a fan of music will always take precedence over being a critic.

Last night, Ben Folds and his new band played a nine-song in-store set at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset. He drew a fair crowd. There were supposed to be 500 wristbands given out over two days for people who bought the album and wanted to have it signed, and we had no problem getting wristbands an hour before he went on, so there you go. It was a little chilly and the band went on about thirty minutes late, but Ben was so funny and great that it was completely worthwhile. Setlist:

1. In-Between Days
2. Jesusland
3. You To Thank
4. Bitches Ain’t Shit (introduced as a great Johnny Cash story-song that happened to be written by Dr. Dre)
5. Landed
6. Zak And Sara
7. Late (“This song was written for Elliott Smith”)
8. Bastard
9. Philosophy

We ran to the signing line in the middle of “Philosophy” and only had to wait about another half-hour or so (not like the Interpol signing debacle at the same venue where we waited in the cold for three-and-a-half hours and nobody told us the band was leaving), so it moved pretty quickly.

Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, Ben Folds Five were my first favorite band. I got into them around the time The Unathorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner came out and just fell in love with the band and with Ben. It’s been six years since then, and aside from Elliott Smith, I still haven’t discovered many artists who can speak to me as powerfully or directly as Ben can. Simply put, I love the guy to the depths of the capability of a fan’s love for an artist, and he’s somewhat responsible for the music I listen to today and why I care about it so much.

I finally handed Ben my album to sign and realized I had about 10 seconds to say something intelligent, so, nervous and trembling, I said approximately: “You’ve been my favorite ever since Reinhold Messner…you guys were the first band I ever really loved…so I just want to thank you for being amazing.” Ben said, with all the gravity and seriousness in the world: “Yeah, no…thanks for listening.”

I’m totally aware that reading it sounds hokey, but you should’ve seen the look on his face and heard the tone of his voice. I think Ben could tell how freaked out I was and how big a fan and all that, and hopefully that touched him as much as one fan among hundreds can. I really feel like we had a Moment.


Ok, back to relentless criticism.