Thursday, August 01, 2013

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013... Guster, Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies. Tanglewood

Pictures from Tanglewood are here.

My friend Chris asked me why on earth I would want to see the same concert twice in a week. Oh honey.

Thing is, I knew for a fact it wouldn't be the "same" concert twice. I don't know what bands he goes to see, but in my experience with Guster and BNL and other bands really, the setlist is not the same 2 shows in a row. And, the antics are not the same. And the interstitial nonsense is never ever the same.

I would have preferred to see four shows in a row over a two week period, but I restrained myself and didn't buy tickets to everything bearing the "Last Summer on Earth" name within driving distance of my house. Be proud of me.

Jess and I left home around 11 and went to visit the aforementioned Chris, his wife (and my former roommate in college) Laurel, and their son Elijah. We spent the afternoon sitting and chatting and then headed over for dinner at The Hangar in Amherst. Truly a transcendent experience. Deliciousness and wings and more wings and deliciousness.

Chris and Laurel told us about the Tanglewood Culture, which I didn't know anything about. They said that show attendees bring picnics. Only they aren't picnics. They are adventures in haute cuisine, with gourmet flair, $200 bottles of wine. Tables! Chairs! Candelabras! Servants! Well, not really the last one. But still. Impressive. I thought about taking a box of take-out wings with me to the show, and maybe giving them to Brian Rosenworcel for his 40th birthday. But I changed my mind. But... next time I go out there, I'm bringing a picnic.

We needed to get to the show early so that  I could have visit time. See, my good friend Eva (from back in the day, all the way back in the day, like our whole lives friends) married a guy and had a kid and that kid is kind of a big huge Ben Folds fan. I convinced the husband, Brian, to buy tickets to the show even though his wife, my dear friend Eva, could not attend. So he would be there, and we would get to meet in person for the second time.

They had spent the day ziplining through the Berkshires, and the son, Sam, was a bit exhausted. Brian and I had a nice visit together while Sam sat quietly. He slowly opened up and we talked about shows and concerts and Ben Folds and how this was going to be great.

Their seats were opposite us and several rows back. We were in the sixth row, right behind Ben Folds' butt. Better seats than Mohegan Sun. I couldn't wait to see the show now.

The shed was pretty empty, and a friend told me that a lot of people don't come to their seats until they feel like it, and stay in picnic land. Sometimes they never come to their seats, and just stay out there and watch the show on the big screen.

Being in the sixth row, I felt that being anywhere else was stupid. Boothby Graffoe came out and his set was nice. He's a very talented singer, and his songs are funny and slightly cringeworthy, which I adore. BNL came out and joined him on a few songs, and Ed was genuinely amused by Boothby's antics. You can tell they're used to one another and the silliness that comes from touring together.

Jessica coveted his BNL/NHL crossover hockey shirt.

Guster came out and I was completely thrilled. So close! I think this is the closest I've been to Guster seat-wise at a show.

I immediately yelled out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!" when they started to take the stage and after the initial clapping subsided. A few other people did too. I wanted him to know that we knew it was his birthday. He smiled, and they started rocking. 

Adam was always very close to the edge of the stage so getting pictures of him was easy.

I even got great shots of Brian, who you usually can't get a good shot of because he is moving so fast and my camera just can't hack it.

The crowd was very quiet and serious, and I was feeling bad for the Gusters. They played "Come Downstairs and Say Hello," and when the song picks up I told Abbey and Jess that we just couldn't stay seated anymore, we needed to give them some rock love and get up and dance.

So we did. I noticed more and more people getting up, and you could tell Ryan was enjoying that. "Hey, you're standing! That means we're doing something right!"

I kind of feel like maybe Guster was feeling short shrifted on this tour with opening and only having about 45 minutes to perform. There was hardly an audience, and the initial energy was lacking. But slowly the audience started feeding them, and they started giving it back.

Ryan noted the picnics, and how awesome they were.

"Homecoming King" got people up rocking and yelling out the line "back in Massachusetts," and the hooting ensued.

Their performance was fantastic, I loved every minute of it and every song.

But the best part of the show was when Ryan introduced Brian's daughter and his mom, "three generations of Rosenworcels on one stage!" to bring a gift out to Brian for his 40th birthday. 

I think it speaks volumes to how wonderful and sweet this band is.

Look at Brian's face as Jolene hands him up the present. She was so cute, and kind of scared but knew exactly what she needed to do. His mom was very caring in guiding her over to her daddy.

It was also Brian's mom's birthday too, which is kind of cool. I wish we'd all been able to sing happy birthday to them. But Ryan didn't strike up the crowd. They just continued to rock.

Ed Robertson came out and sang lead on "Barrel of a Gun," and that was fun. Because he was on Ryan's microphone, I was happy to catch this shot of Ryan and Adam. I think it is one of the better concert pictures I've ever taken.

Ed was fantastic, and the audience loved it.

I really wanted more Guster, but ... sadly their time was up.

Between the Guster and Ben Folds Five set, I went to find Brian and Sam.

I wanted to offer them our seats, so that they could sit close to Ben and that Sam could watch him play. Abbey pointed out that the people beside Jess had not arrived, and that we should all just stay there until they show up. If they show up, okay. Jess and I will go to Brian and Sam's seat. I don't think Jess was happy I volunteered her seat up but I wasn't thinking of her. I was thinking of Sam.

He just turned 13, and he is a huge Ben fan, and I really felt deep in my heart he needed to be as close as possible, and in fact seeing Ben's face or seeing him from the side of the piano was nothing -- he needed to be where we were to see his hands, his playing, his posture, his moves.

Brian was a little bit blown away by my generosity. I didn't give it a second thought. They came all this way, this is his kid's big hero -- hell yeah I'd give up my seat.

I'm glad the people next to Jess never showed up.

We got to sit there through the entire set with Sam and Brian, and let me tell you what, dear reader, Ben was all business for this set. It's almost like he knew I was disappointed in the Friday show.

We got the three songs that I wanted, "Philosophy," "Narcolepsy," and "Army," complete with the audience belting out the horn section and knowing exactly what to do (excellent job, Ben Fans!). We got "Underground," which was hysterical, and I was so proud to hear my daughter belting out every word. So funny. They also did "Alice Childress" and "Landed," and Brian was very happy for those.

We were high-fiving and cheering and just generally in our glory for the 45 minute set. "Dicks on a wall" was a lot better received here. Ben talked about the last time he played with the Boston Pops (Tanglewood is the Summer Residence for the Boston Pops orchestra) there was a riot in the crowd. Two people got into an argument over "some one of them songs from Star Wars or some shit," and then he did an imitation of them hitting each other with chairs. He shook his head and said "My fans would never act that way."

The only thing that would have made this set better would have been "Best Imitation of Myself," and "Uncle Walter." Also, if I could have requested one of the mellow songs to be "Magic," I think that would have made my night.

Another thing that I noticed about this show was it seemed extra loud. Extra powerful. Really turned up and amped up and at blow the roof off the joint levels, not just because of the song choices having more energy but just in general. I don't think I ever expected to hear Ben Folds this loud and powerful. And it was a great experience for me. Sam had his ear plugs in to protect his hearing... but I gotta say I was alright with leaving mine out. Oh, and that fuzzy bass... bliss. 

Thank you Ben Folds Five for melting my face off, and for making it the best night ever.

Looking over at Sam's face was worth it. Seeing him just staring at Ben, and watching the energy and the awesomeness, I felt like I was on another planet, one made of joy and happy all day every day.

Sam and Brian left to go wander the crowd at the picnic area, and they were going to watch some of BNL and take off -- it was a long day for them. I wanted them to stay with us but understood completely.

BNL came out and opened with "Limits" again, and it sounded great. They did a lot of repeats from the Mohegan Sun show, nothing that blew my mind like "Oh my God I can't believe they're playing this! NO WAY!" or anything like I felt with Ben.

They brought the old timey microphone set up out, and I hoped for the bluegrass rendition of "One Week," but I honestly can't remember what they sang here -- it was cool to watch them perform in the Grand Ole Opry set up again, with Tyler behind them on a single drum.

Ryan came out on the same song from Mohegan. No Brian Wilson and the thundergod for an encore. They stopped right at 11 with nothing beyond "Alcohol" because I think Tanglewood has a very strict time-stop clause.

It was a good show and a great set, and a very happy crowd. Lots of joking about the cost of vacation rental properties in the Berkshires. Ed invited everyone over the next night for a BBQ at a place he was renting from 4:30pm to 6pm but they had to be RIGHT OUT at 6 because the next family was coming in for their 90 minute rental.

They talked about a tree tour that they went on and Kevin did an imitation of the tour guide talking about the Shagbark Hickory in the area. They even talked about the picnics out on the lawn, with walnuts lovingly harvested from the local trees by hand, and artisinal shagbark hickory salad dressings...

As always, the ride home made me think that I should have stayed at a hotel, or stayed at Chris and Laurie's for the night because it is a long haul back to our house from the far northwest corner of this little state. And as always, remorse about not buying tickets to all the local shows immediately seeped in. What shenanigans would happen in Maine in a couple nights? What about Brooklyn, where Guster is always such a big freaking hit with the hipster young audience!? Oh man, what am I going to miss?

Indeed, why on earth would I buy tickets to more than one show in a tour. Because of these guys, these events, these songs and these moments. Somewhat repetitive but also unique. Each night a gem in and of itself.

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