Tuesday, March 12, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 106



Folds rocks suburbs, Houston with ballads

By Geronimo Rodriguez
Daily Cougar Staff

In his solo performance at the Verizon Wireless Theater on Friday, Ben Folds entertained with his energetic piano playing and a number of songs old and new that reflect the sarcasm and relationship angst the artist has become known for.

Folds' songwriting on his latest album Rockin' the Suburbs hasn't changed much from his previous work with Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee the trio made up the
band Ben Folds Five.

Folds played songs like "Zak and Sara" and "Carrying Cathy" that are carried by sentimental lyrics about relationships. Both are no different from what can be found on
Ben Folds Five's Whatever and Ever Amen.

At the beginning of "Still Fighting It," Folds' adolescent self comes out when he belts out how "it sucks to grow up."

"The Ascent of Stan" is perhaps the most somber of his recent songs, featuring Folds expressing his thoughts on getting older.

The old songs Folds mixed with the new throughout the night were without a doubt the fans' favorites.

Both "The Battle of Who Could Care Less" (from Whatever and Ever Amen) and "Philosophy" (from Ben Folds Five) are the kind of tunes for which Folds' songwriting
is better suited. The lyrics play out like reading someone's journal and are layered with a strong play on the keys.

Folds' wit took over when he stopped for a moment and told a story about writing a song he called "One of the 4.6" simply to fulfill his publishing contract, which
stipulated that he write 4.6 songs for the year.

"One down and 3.6 to go/ I could be bussing tables and pumping gas/ But I get paid to play piano and kiss some ..." he sang.

Folds performed "Evaporated" and "Song for the Dumped" as an encore performance for a crowd that just couldn't get enough.

"Evaporated" was met with tiny, scattered flames as lighters raised to perhaps the most touching song from Whatever.

With sweet sounds from his piano and a soft voice sending lyrics like "Here I stand sad and free/ I can't cry and I can't see/ What I've done," Folds presented the beauty
of his pure artistic style.

Before he began "Dumped," Folds explained the minor changes made in the song about an ugly ending with a relationship.

"We (he and Jessee) went back and thought that the song should have a more diminutive sound because it's about break-up," Folds said.

While the solo effort was entertaining, let's hope Folds strays from the adolescent songwriting and focuses more on the softer ballads that highlight his talent.

His way with the piano is worth the ticket price, but better performances came from the older material.

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