Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

‘Piano King’ rocks NoHo’s Calvin Theater

Ben Folds rocks so hard, he sometimes breaks pianos.

Such was the case when he played at the Calvin Theater in Northampton on Saturday night. After playing 20 songs lasting over two hours, a pedal on the house piano was so weakened and damaged by the rocking force of his right foot that Folds had to step away from the piano while two men came out and repaired it.

While the men worked on the pedal, Folds sang “Bitches Ain’t Shit” sans-piano while the audience sang along before returning to the piano to play four more songs and an encore.

Prior to Folds’ set, the crowd met Kate Miller-Heidke with enthusiasm. Fans, visibly eager to see Ben Folds and initially displeased that they should have to wait through an opening act, appreciated her charm and sense of humor, particularly when she played her viral hit, “Are You F*cking Kidding Me? (The Facebook Song).” Women in the audience were likely envious of her clothes, as she stepped onto the stage in a practical-yet-chic little black dress and the most fabulous pair of boots to match.

Miller-Heidke began her set with a sweet, slow song before her acoustic guitar player, who also contributed backing vocals, joined in and she added her own tambourine. She told little anecdotes from her life that helped explain certain songs, such as her regretting the way she treated a few specific schoolmates in her song “Caught in the Crowd.” Some songs had a bit of a hip-hop feel to them as well.

She, like Folds, was unafraid to get silly; during a few songs, she would hold some notes for an extended period of time and, in others, would randomly begin to sing opera-style (Miller-Heidke is classically trained). While interesting and unexpected, the opera singing got a little irritating when repeated. She even threw it into her performance when Folds brought her out during his set to play his song “You Don’t Know Me,” originally recorded with Regina Spektor.

As with many opening acts, a lot of the audience began to filter into the theater towards the end of Miller-Heidke’s set, which is unfortunate for them; they missed a terrific performance.

Shortly after Miller-Heidke left the stage and her keyboard and microphone were removed and packed away, seats were abandoned and the theater drowned in screams as Ben Folds appeared from stage left, took a bow, and sat at the piano.

Where Kate Miller-Heidke had been dressed to the nines, Ben Folds dressed unremarkably in gray pants and a t-shirt, almost unfit to appear on the stage of the beautiful Calvin Theater until beginning to play.

Throughout Folds’ set, you could hear him stomping on the ground, keeping time with his left foot – all the way from the balcony, which makes the idea of his foot actually breaking the piano much easier to understand.

Folds also gave short explanations of different songs throughout his performance. He told the story behind the song “Effington,” revealing that he had actually gotten the name of the town the song is about wrong when he wrote it. It is about a town called Effingham. He added that, for writing a song about it, the mayor of Effingham had sent him a letter offering him a burial plot in the town.

Folds has recently been writing a few songs with Nick Hornby. He played three new songs for which Hornby wrote the lyrics and Folds wrote the music, including “Levi Johnston’s Blues,” which were all well-received by the crowd.

The most interesting part of the set was when Folds somehow managed to turn the audience into a four-part chorus. He asked everyone to sing whatever parts they thought fit their vocal range, which miraculously worked out to four almost-equal parts of the crowd. After demonstrating what each part of the chorus would be singing, he flailed his hands in the air, conducting everyone. He taught everyone new parts at the end of his set and erratically conducted everyone, explaining that “this is how you score a movie.”

Folds played a perfect mixture of fun, fast songs and slow, serious songs. He played “Not the Same,” a song about a friend of his who got high at a party, climbed a tree, and woke up a born-again Christian as well as “The Luckiest,” a flows-like-water slow song about being powerfully in love. For the encore, Folds busted out his hit “Rockin’ the Suburbs.”

If the broken piano wasn’t a clear indication that Ben Folds put on a great show, the rejuvenated moods of everyone in the theater afterwards ought to be. Some stayed around the theater, hoping to meet Folds. Those who waited long enough got the chance to get an autograph and a photo with one of the kings of piano rock.

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at erulonmi@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “‘Piano King’ rocks NoHo’s Calvin Theater”
  1. Scientific Nature of the Whammy says:

    Very well written, Ms. Rulon-Miller. You caught all the highs and lows, and I’m glad you also found it irritating when Ms. Heidke overused her operatic voice.

    I’ve been telling my friends that the show was amazing, and that Ben Folds rocks SO hard that he actually breaks the house piano 😀

Leave A Comment