Ben Folds: gig of the year

Apologies to anyone I meet today. If I’m tired and grumpy it’s only because I’m still recovering from a very late night. I went to the Ben Folds gig in Second Life and, since it was scheduled for early evening in the US, I did not get to sleep until 3am. I see Ian has already written up the event at Eightbar and it looks like Eric Rice (aka Spin Martin) is working on something too. TheSuburbs.org.uk has a roundup of Ben’s busy day yesterday. Here are my thoughts.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ben Folds perform live twice now. The first time was back when he was still being Ben Folds Five, and more recently on his solo tour. Both were stunning, mind-blowing gigs but last night topped them both.

The reason was not the stage set, the lighting or even the sound quality (all good) but just the raw craziness in the room. Ben was a surprisingly adept Second Life user considering most of us assumed it was his first time. It’s possible he was getting a little help from the sheep. I know that Jerry Paffendorf (aka SNOOPYbrown Zamboni) was there with him in person, and was managing to both do a good job and, by the sound of it, have a whale of a time. (Incidently, I don’t think Cory Edo, who built Ben’s avatar for him, was there in person, which is a shame since she did a great job and is a huge fan.)

Ben Folds avatar (small)

So.. it was a good gig. How can anyone fail to be impressed by a singer/songwriter whose first appearence in Second Life includes:

  • an audio stream (live chat from the studio and tasters from the new album).
  • Typed chat, complete with paying attention to what the crowd were doing and saying. It was very clearly him too. No corporate sleezeball pupeteer is going to make a Ben Folds avatar say “stand back bitches” at the top of the show.
  • The use of the Duff beer can attachement, complete with falling down drunk animation.
  • Shirtless Ben, encouraging others to join him in taking off their shirts.
  • Lightsaber fighting. Choice quotes: “does anyone want to fight?”, “if you’ll put down the nunchucks i will fight you”, “it’s not fair if you have nunchucks”

In short, it was wild. It was the sort of experience which, in real life, you might get once in a lifetime with an artist who just wants to party with the fans.

Update: Giff Constable has written up a very even-handed report of the evening.

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