Ben Folds and yMusic brought their unique and dynamic collaboration to Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks on July 14. The first ticketed show of the summer concert series, the standing-room-only lawn was full and captivated through the whole set.
The 8-piece group is a departure from the group Ben Folds is mostly known for, consisting of himself, drum-kit and 3 strings and 3 wind instruments. Nonetheless his fans turned out, often singing along to many selections from the Ben Folds catalog. The ensemble played a diverse hybrid of styles, with varying leanings toward classical elements through the piano-rock many know.. even ending the set with an upbeat swing tune with extended drum and clarinet solo.
Among the classic Ben Folds offerings was the song known to never be repeated the same way twice – “Rock this B—-“. On this ocassion he even ad libbed the title, switching “Rock” to another 4-letter word that showed early in the set that Folds wouldn’t let the instrumentation often associated with seriousness stop him from being edgy and not necessarily family friendly. In this rendition of “F— this B—-“, Folds improvised verses ranging from the Steel Stacks to PBS 39 (in eyeshot of his seat on the stage) and even brought up Pokemon.
Overall, if anyone came with doubts about whether the unique group could bring what they knew in the prior groups of Ben Folds, everyone seemed sold as the set went on and through the multi-song encore. yMusic showed that you don’t need the typical configuration to rock, and Ben Folds proved he can do much more than just that.