As an audience flooded with fathers, each wearing the essential pair of Converse, a spectacle-clad Ben Folds conducted us like a choir of lost boys.
Each nostalgic clanging of keys had the audience reminiscing of the valuable role that this band had in their adolescence. Being half the age of the majority of the crowd, I found myself thinking back on the short-evenings spent attempting to master these songs on my grandmother's piano. Along with Folds, there were two other men to complete the Brian Wilson-esque harmonies: drummer Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge on bass. Those trademark sludgy plucks, sarcastic snare snaps and witty conversations that were once ironic, now came across slightly rehearsed. Folds' implemented head-shaking stamina on the keys, but on some songs, his vocals lacked slightly in inspiration. Ben Folds Five have completed transformation into the counter-culture known as: dad-rock.
It's been about 13-years since they last performed at the Kool Haus. The trio split for a decade, which allowed Folds to experiment with a reasonably successful solo career. With that hiatus in mind, it's good to note that they didn't fumble a single melody and played exactly what the crowd ordered, unleashing a slew of favourites: "Song For The Dumped", "Jackson Cannery" and the bittersweet "Brick". With 9-year-old daughters on their shoulders and jackets wrapped around their waists, the crowd shuffled in a style oddly reminiscent of Charlie Brown. The audience had completely surrendered to the notion of misunderstood misfits. However, many of the new jams fall short of sounding genuinely smart-ass like their self-proclaimed "punk-rock for sissies" did in the late-nineties. Outside of the new track "Do It Anyway", much of the sarcastic, comedic honesty runs a little more honest than sarcastic on their latest effort, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.
It cannot be denied that their ability to seamlessly turn rock into funk into jazz is grossly underrated. For the encore, the fellas delivered their famous improv-jam, "Rock This Bitch". It's a song that traces back to a fan who shouted those words during a show in 2001 and Folds' live album immortalized it. Ben Folds Five have been performing variations since, and this time around they riffed about roses that some fan had left for the band.
This show wasn't necessarily what I expected from a personal pillar band, but it's what I needed.
Michael Praytor, Five Years Later
Missing the War
Hold That Thought
Selfless, Cold and Composed
Thank You for Breaking My Heart
Battle of Who Could Care Less
Do It Anyway
Tom and Mary
Song for the Dumped
Rock This Bitch