Day Two of Comic-Con included a panel with Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson. We weren’t there.
Instead we saw Ben Folds in concert. Read on to see if we made the right choice.
On Friday, after a full day of work that ended with me RAGE quitting a data query, I headed to Blondie’s Pizza and met up with a friend for a quick meal before we and my wife went to The Warfield to see Ben Folds and his latest incarnation of a band perform songs in support of Lonely Avenue.
The pizza was good and even though my wife got stuck in traffic, she still had time to grab some chicken tenders at Carl’s Jr. and scarf them down quickly before heading inside for the show. I stayed with her outside while our friend went in and kept the panhandlers from accosting her. Despite my valiant efforts, one almost slipped by me.
When we got inside, we bought the deluxe edition of the album which I thought we already owned but definitely didn’t. We headed upstairs and discovered our friend was literally sitting right in front of us. This meant we were spending a second night in a row with the good company of our friend at what we hoped would be another great concert.
Kenton Chen opened up the night with a short set. He was the dorky Asian guy who masterminded the creation of The Backbeats, a Los Angeles based Acapella group on this past season of The Sing Off, a reality show that Ben Folds is a judge on.
Kenton’s set was adequate for an opener but he really is a dork and doesn’t just play one on TV. He started off with a looping vocal version of the Linda Perry classic “Toxic” that was written for Britney Spears and balanced that out later in the set with a looping vocal track about how he hates pop culture, particularly women using sex to sell CDs or something like that.
He was very excited to have been on the tour and encouraged everyone to stop by and see him and get his CD at the merch booth.
It wasn’t a horrible trainwreck but Kenton didn’t do anything to make me want to buy his CD.
Ben Folds and his band took the stage and something magic happened. It was the last night of their tour and the band was very loose and did some jams throughout the night. They covered Ke$ha’s Sleazy at one point and midway through the set Ben mentioned how his son was 12 years old that day and he played “Still Fighting It” the song he wrote for Louis shortly after he was born. After the song, he mentioned that Louis’ twin sister Gracie was born the next day and that they were born “on the cusp of Asparagus and… I don’t know I’m not good with that astrology stuff”. He explained he had also written a song for Gracie and was about to play it when…
His sustain pedal was not working.
Ben Folds is a notorious piano abuser. This is the same man that in college was a drummer and got mad and literally threw his drum kit in the lake. Earlier in the show he had told a story of how a few nights before he had thrown his phone in the hotel pool and Ke$ha jumped into the pool fully clothed and retrieved it for him. He has a knack for destroying things.
While an army of piano technicians came out to repair the piano, Ben started out by doing an a capella version of Randy Newman’s “Old Man” which he added some Neil Young to at the end. He said he used to use the song as a lullaby for Louis and Gracie when they were young.
When the technicians reported the piano still wasn’t operable and Ben even tried the pedal himself, he proceeded to start an onstage drum circle and we watched in horror as parts of the piano were dismantled before our very eyes. But our ears were pleased by the percussion and later bass playing by Ben and members of his band. Ben also at one point in what could have been a disaster brought out a DANGER Wet Floor sign and put it on top of the piano.
Eventually the piano worked again. He played “Gracie” and then called out his kids and had the crowd sing “Happy Birthday” with him and the band to the two 12 year olds. They were presented with cakes and Louis asked if he could smash it into his face on stage and then decided to just go in the back and eat it.
Whether it be Lonely Avenue songs, tracks from other recent work, covers, jams to fill in piano repair, jams just to express themselves or concert staples, Ben and his band kept the crowd going throughout the night and played a nice long set and a two song encore.
We left The Warfield and I had a huge grin on my face. I like how talented musicians can create things that make me so happy.
Kenton Chen Setlist:
Take Me Home
(Song about Pop Culture)
Ben Folds Setlist:
Levi Johnston’s Blues
Sleazy (Ke$ha cover)
You To Thank
Not The Same
(Ryan Lerman bass solo)
Still Fighting It
Old Man (Randy Newman cover)
Drum Circle/Bass Jam
You Don’t Know Me
Rock This Bitch
Zak and Sara
Hiroshima (Ben sang it in Japanese)
Kate (Ben Folds Five song)
Army (Ben Folds Five song)
The Luckiest (Ben dedicated it to his wife)
Philosophy (Ben Folds Five song)
What we missed at Comic-Con:
Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson at the Adventures of Tintin panel. We would have missed this anyway and the big news was Jurassic Park 4 might actually be made in the next few years. Also, some lucky dude wore a shirt that said something to the effect of “I’d like to meet Stephen Spielberg just to shake his hand and tell him thank you.” He got to meet and take photos with the two directing legends.
Star Trek: The Captains panel which will be broadcast as part of William Shatner’s miniseries on whatever channel it gets picked up on… or YouTube whichever comes first.
The Locke & Key pilot, which didn’t make it to air and probably won’t be seen anywhere else. Not that big of a deal but it was filmed in Pittsburgh and was written by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill. Would have probably enjoyed this if we could have gotten into it.
Ballroom 20 had a huge Torchwood panel with Jane Espenson and all of the principle actors of Torchwood: Miracle Day. I saw what was probably a much better Torchwood panel several years back before they started killing people off. I don’t think I missed much at this year’s panel but may have attempted to go to it if I was at Comic-Con. This choice would have made me miss the Spielberg/Jackson Tintin panel.
We also missed apparently cool John Cho in Total Recall footage, Andy Serkis asking a question from the audience mic of Peter Jackson during the Tintin panel, Andrew Garfield asking a question in a Spider-Man costume from the audience mic, Adam Savage as Batman and one of the other principle actors from Spider-Man getting arrested for harassing and assaulting a Hall H security person.
It is very easy to say we made the right choice on Friday.