Ben Folds grew up playing drums and was always inspired by the orchestra. His lush music received a new spin by playing with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Steven Reineke. Folds is a member of the Board of Directors of the Nashville Symphony and composed a piano concerto that he is playing on his current tour, which included Wolf Trap!
Folds encouraged the crowd to go see the NSO and orchestras overall because “We need them more than they need us!” Folds humorously explained, “I enjoy civilization, and it’s OK if you don’t, but when a city doesn’t have an orchestra that city sucks. While we were learning how to make out with girls in middle school, the orchestra players were playing music!” The audience lapped up Fold’s hilarious witty banter between each song.
After the first song “Effington,” Folds doffed his black jacket, took off his tie, and rolled up sleeves. He then sweetly asked the light crew to please lower the lights as they were like interrogation lights and it was hot. The whole venue was steaming hot so I’m sure on stage it was even hotter!
His third song “Jesus Land” is a gorgeous song about the Bible Belt in America. The crescendo of the chorus sends chills up and down my spine. Later on during the concert, Folds gleefully explained that his daughter was in the chorus, and she was going to kill him for outing her. He asked the audience to guess which one was she. An African American singer raised his hand and the audience laughed.
Folds hysterically lamented about the crowd on the lawn being pelted by rain and having thunder above them. “I’m sure there is some provision to let you in case of rain! You could sit on the stage, like hippies, but that’s not how shit works! That’s America!”
The highlights of the show kept coming, so it’s hard to choose just one.
During the crowd favorite “Rock This Bitch” Folds created the song on stage with the orchestra and even the chorus’ lyrics. Thunder, lightning and rain surrounded the venue and Folds commiserated with the fans unprotected on the lawn. He composed the song based on the poor souls on the lawn. The chorus was “Rain or shine, it’s only lightening and we will be fine! Oh yeah!” The crowd roared and gave Folds and the orchestra a standing ovation.
During the sad song “Brick,” where Ben Folds recounts a sad situation with a girlfriend in high school, the song soared to new heights with sound of the beautiful violins.
Folds closed the concert with the rip-roaring “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces,” as the crow went wild.
4. Picture Window
5. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (First Movement)
7. Fred Jones, Part 2
8. Steven’s Last Night in Town
9. Zak and Sara
10. Rock this Bitch
12. Annie Waits
14. Not the Same
15. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind
17. The Luckiest
18. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes, with one intermission, and an encore.
Ben Folds and the NSO played Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center — 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. For tickets to future events check their Calendar of Calendar of Performances and Events.
Ben Fold’s website.