So, I wanted to see the Ben Folds Five when they came to Cary NC’s outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheater Sept. 16. And I wanted to see the performers well, so I skipped the bring-your-own-chair lawn tickets and shelled out for good seats up front, just six rows from the stage.
Those worked very well through the opening act. Kate Miller-Heidke, an Australian woman with an eclectic style of story songs and a crazy good acoustic guitar accompanist, was both entertaining and visible from my seat.
When it was time for the main show, I learned two things: first, the Ben Folds Five is a trio. Seriously. I don’t know why.
Secondly, I learned that it’s probably not worthwhile to buy good seats at a rock concert (even of the alternative/indie/pop variety) if you plan to use them. Everyone around rose to their feet and cheered as Folds, bassist Robert Sledge, and drummer Darren Jesee took the stage.
As they began to play, I sat down, ready to enjoy the show and see if I recognized any of the songs. Everyone in front of me remained standing.
It’s not as if all the people in Rows A through F were dancing and grooving to the music. A couple of kids who were barely born when the Five last toured 12 years ago were rocking out, but most of the adults just stood there blocking the view. Some of them would sit down when a slower song came along, but popped back up whenever the energy level increased — which, with Folds, is most of the time.
What lesson do I take from this? An observation that we’re a nation of self-centered egoists who don’t give a rip about the people behind us? A note-to-self that buying good seats at a rock concert is not a good investment? An internally directed admonition to chill out and not expect people with front row seats to sit in them? A set of cultural/anthropological observations on crowd behavior?
Or maybe just a reminder that all of life has ups and downs, surprises come with the package, and you don’t always get what you thought you paid for — but the music and the dance go on, if you care to join.