Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeBack from the lonesome stages of his solo ventures, Folds shared the Miller Lite stage at Summerfest with a drummer and bassist in support of his latest release Songs For Silverman. The energy of a band behind the talented singer/songwriter was undeniable as they opened the night with "Always Cooler Than You" and the new "Jesusland." Easily described as pop music but not so easily digested, Ben Folds' music is catchy but with an underlying current of anti-pop: some sort of love/hate relationship. Whether Folds was flying through the arpeggios and ragtime-like solo in "Army" or was simply bashing his fists on the piano in dischord, the music was heady but not at all pretentious.
There were some calm moments in the show, such as the gentle "Evaporated" or the radio hit "Brick," which is a far cry from the majority of Folds' tunes. Folds, however, was at his best when he assumed his power-rock stance behind the keys and let loose, only briefly looking up to key the band or eye the audience. Providing a strong dose of humor for the night, Folds announced, "This is a song I wrote with Dr. Dre. He wrote the words and I wrote the music." What followed was a very non-rap version of Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" that even Folds could not hold back a smile for. Though Folds has never stopped writing uniquely engaging tunes, the support of a band gave the extra energy to his songs that his solo act lacked.
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