Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last Summer on Earth: Guster, Ben Folds Five & Barenaked Ladies

Roger and I aren't huge concert fans.  While his brother goes to tons and tons, we generally go to one or two free ones a year, mostly in parks near our house.  What can I say?  It's just not really our thing.

Still, way, way back in 2004, when Roger and I weren't even dating, we drove five hours, with five friends, in my parents' mini-van, to Cornell University, for the best concert of our lives featuring Guster, Ben Folds, and Rufus Wainwright, and then drove five hours back home.  ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.  Yes.  We were pretty much the coolest kids ever.

The Coolest Kids Ever. #TBT

Yeah.  We rocked at high school.  Anyway, we got back to Mahopac at around 5am, ate breakfast at the diner, and then went back to school.  It was the very first all-nighter (of three total in my life) I ever pulled, and I was so tired that when I got home from school at 5pm, I just cried hysterically until I passed out.  A quote from my mother while I was crying: "Did you get rejected from a college?  Was it Harvard?"  Like I said, I rocked high school.

Anyway, that concert was epic, and certainly a highlight of my teenager-hood, and definitely contributed to what is now nearly a decade of Roger and me being us.  Aww.  Then, between that concert and probably 2007, we saw Guster and Ben Folds play separately and together probably four more times.  This is partially for nostalgia and partially because they are amazing live.

So, when Shelby asked if we wanted to see them play together with Barenaked Ladies on Tuesday at Prospect Park, we were sold.  We shelled out a small fortune for the tickets, and waited breathlessly for them to arrive via post, just like in the olden days.  When they never arrived, I called and was assured they'd be at will-call.  Sadly, Shelby wasn't able to come to concert at the end, so Roger and I made it into a date night, and I met him at work before we walked over for dinner at Kimchi Grill.  Those tacos are seriously delicious - we had five different types between us, and all of them were amazing - so if you're near the Brooklyn Museum, definitely make a stop there!


At around 6:30, we headed down Prospect Park toward the bandshell.  The concert started right at 6:30, but we were told Guster wouldn't start until 7, so we weren't too nervous.  We'd been to shows there before, and always just walked right in.  Alas, that was not to be this time.  As we walked, we saw an enormous line, leading about a quarter of a mile into the bandshell, and already heard Guster playing, even though it was only 6:50.  We breathed a sigh of relief when we realized it wasn't the will-call line, and proceeded on to that line.  Once we reached the front, they told us to wait in the lost-tickets line, which we did.  It moved much more slowly, since Ticketmaster had never sent them the lost tickets, and they were printing them out on demand.  So, after waiting about 15 minutes on the third line, we finally had our tickets and proceeded to the empty gate next to will-call.  Guster was still going strong, now playing my favorite song, so we were really ready to get inside.  Sadly, we were told we now had to wait on the first, quarter-of-a-mile long line.  We were pretty cranky.  We're kind of tired of waiting in line.  But, wait we did, along with every other late-twentysomething early-thirtysomething in Brooklyn, ready to relive their golden years on Brooklyn's front lawn.

We made it inside just in time to hear the last three songs Guster played.  We were disappointed to miss most of the set, but what we did hear was fantastic, so all was not lost.  I'm in constant awe of their drummer.  After a bit, Ben Folds Five came on, and while they started off slow, they really picked up and the set was ultimately really great.  They played "Brick," which I've never heard live, so that was really cool, and had the audience singing along in harmonies, which is one of my favorite parts of seeing them.  Ben Folds was less chatty than in the past when I've seen him, but still gave a great show.  In the break between Ben Folds Five and BNL, Guster came out and gave a mini-set of three acoustic songs, which I didn't hear, but which Roger really enjoyed.  I still have very fond memories of Vertical Horizon coming out to sign autographs when I saw them at West Point in middle school, so I have a soft-spot for bands coming out into the audience in between sets.  It just feels really nice and personable.  I was less excited for BNL, just because I was so excited for Guster and Ben Folds, but they turned out to be incredible performers, and really seemed like they were having a blast.  They brought members of the other bands out for almost every song, were really funny and chatty in between each song, and during "One Week," the lead singer and bassist did some fancy coordinated jumping and bouncing on instruments.  And then, to top it all off, they did a pop-song cover medley for their final song, which was one of the greatest and funniest things I've seen in ages.  I was super-impressed, and really had a great time.

Ben Folds!

We've been to a few concerts of people we used to love in the past, and they're often just a little depressing.  They're older, we're older, and something has gone stale in my love of music.  Concerts just don't have the same magic they had when I was 16.  But this was different.  Sure, there are Guster-babies now, with little Guster-onesies for them to wear at night.  Sure, the youngest person at this concert was accompanying his parents.  And yes, maybe those skinny jeans were a little tight on Robert Sledge.  But overall, it was such a lot of fun that those things didn't matter at all.  They were all sprinkled with just a little bit of teenage-magic-glitter.


  1. The beginning of this entry cracked me up! And I totally agree with the last part. -- Leah

    1. haha, thanks, Leah! PS - I love your new blog!