Friday, June 19, 2015

Inside Acces to Inside Out

Like all movie lovers the world over I'm a huge fan of Pixar.  Though they've now had a few misses their output over the last many years has consistently been fantastic.  I was lucky enough to score some review tickets to a promotional thing they did and it was wonderful.  It was a see it early type deal with behind the scenes clips and Q&As with the filmmakers.  Plus I got a poster and a cool backstage pass dealie.

All of that was fun, but the movie was fantastic.  A true return to form for the studio. Anyways I did a whole write up for Cinema Sentries which you can read here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ben Folds Live

But first an apology.   My computer died a few weeks back.  In the process of getting it fixed (or rather buying a new one) and transferring all my old files over, etc., I not only neglected this little blog but I totally forgot about it.  Like literally completely forgot that I had started this thing. Then when I would remember I was always in the car or otherwise in a position to where I couldn't open a browser and start blogging again.  So, that's why I've been absent for so long.

I'm back now, and hopefully will remember to post regularly.

Last night I saw Ben Folds live and it was awesome.  But first a little back story.

I've been something of a fan from nearly the beginning.  An old friend of mine had a copy of Whatever and Amen and played it regularly.  I dug it.  Most of it anyways.  Enough to buy myself a copy but not enough to put it into regular rotation.  I loved some of the songs but on the whole there seemed to be too much filler.

Subsequent albums were much the same.  I'd hear good things about them, grab myself a copy and like a great deal of it, but never enough to swing me into super fandom.  Then a few years ago while the wife and I were visiting the parents in Oklahoma he came to play a gig in Tulsa.  We talked about going, but never quite settled the details and let him pass us by.  Immediately I regretted that decision and every time we'd come into town I'd scour the entertainment news sections to see if he would be in town.

Then we moved back home and he came and we saw him. And I accidentally bought extra tickets.  Around the time tickets dropped The Smashing Pumpkins were also selling tickets.  Wanting to see them as well we tried to get seats, but the pre-sale sold out and we missed out. But in the back of my mind was the desire to grab some when they hit the regular market.  In the couple of weeks that passed my mind mixed up Ben Folds with the Pumpkins (something that I doubt has ever happened to either of them before) and I bought additional tickets to Folds (the wife having already purchased two seats the weeks before.)

Luckily an old pal from the high school days who lives but a couple of hours away saved the day and grabbed my extras.  It was nice to see here beforehand and share a lovely meal.

Ben Folds was doing a little mini solo tour before his new album with a cool little classically trained string sextet dropped.  Solo piano shows are always a bit of a hard sell in the rock world  because, well, its kind of hard to rock out with just a piano.  But Folds totally nailed it.

He did his best to harden up the piano notes by periodically banging on the keys pretty good and creating percussions by slapping his foot against the stage and his hand against the mic.  Musically it was a fun show, but not legendary.  What brought it was his personality and the audience.

He told various stories and jokes between and during songs to liven us all up.  He also played a couple of songs from the new album as a sort of goofy karaoke.  His sound man would queue the actual studio song up through the sound system and Folds would sit at his piano listening with the rest of us and singing along to the words via his live mic.  And then he'd make fun of himself for such a ridiculous thing that it was.

Folds has a long standing tradition of getting his audience to sing along.  This is nothing abnormal at a rock concert as lots of artists get their fans to sing the parts of a song by pointing their mics at the crowd for a minute or two.  But Folds goes further than that having them sing the second part to songs that on record were sung by someone other than Folds.  This creates a marvelous interaction between the artist and audience.

Oh and he got a Hanson brother to sing "Kate."   The Hansons  (them of "mmmbob" fame) are local boys who have now set up shop just down the road from the Cain's Ballroom doing lots of cool stuff like setting up food trucks in impoverished neighborhoods.  One of them (the oldest, Isaac I think) was apparently there just enjoying the show, but them and Folds have some sort of history together and so Folds hollered at him to come up and sing.  His voice was not exactly perfect and he forgot many of the lyrics but it was wonderful just the same.

So Ben Folds live, that's exactly what's making me happy at the moment.