Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Seats Are $60, But The Spit Is Free

Those of you who also drop in on my personal blog undoubtedly know that I had some exciting events planned for last weekend, beginning with dinner & a show on Friday evening in beautiful Fort Wayne, Indiana. (If you'd like to read about how these plans developed, you can find the details here.) Well, dinner ended up being limited to an IHOP run, since it is apparently the only restaurant in Ft. Wayne that is open past 11pm on a Friday night. Weird. But the show more than made up for the lackluster dining choices.

We had never been to the historic Embassy Theatre prior to Friday night, but it is now by far our favorite venue for live music in the state. The theatre itself is gorgeous - an old vaudeville house & movie palace which has been painstakingly renovated to meet modern theatre standards while still maintaining its original grandeur. As expected, the acoustics were perfect, at least to my somewhat untrained ear, and the room seemed to be both intimate and vast at the same time. The lobby areas, aside from being beautiful in their own right, also provided large, well-appointed restrooms, ample bench seating and a decent bar. And I must include that, unlike all other older auditoriums we have patronized over the years, the seats at the Embassy are actually fairly wide and comfortable, with a decent amount of legroom. All in all, it's a great place to take in a show.

I tried to take a few photos of the theatre with my cellphone, but they were predictably grainy & dark. So I've gathered a couple of pictures of the Embassy Theatre from the web, just to give you a general idea of the ambience:

So, you may be asking, why am I posting all this here instead of on my personal blog? Well, that's probably because I haven't mentioned yet why we drove all the way to Ft. Wayne for a Friday night date... The husband & I were lucky enough to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary by spending an evening with Ben Folds & the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Um... yeah.

Our assigned seats were 2nd row center, on the aisle - great seats, to be sure, but through some sort of computer snafu, they had been double-sold. So, here's a shout-out and huge thanks to the lovely gentlemen who agreed to take the replacement seats offered by the theatre (which, while also 2nd row center, were not on the aisle) and allowed 2 very grateful tubs o' lard to enjoy the extra-roominess of our original aisle seats. You really helped to make our anniversary date even more special. Thank you!

But now, back to the show... 2nd row center is not the best place to be if you want the best vantage point to watch the orchestra. We spent a lot of time looking at the violinists' feet. However, it is a great place to be if the whole point is to watch Ben Folds - he & his piano were positioned no more than 25 feet away from us. Words cannot begin to express how tremendous our seats were. It was like having Ben Folds in your living room... along with a 60 piece orchestra. And lots & lots of spittle. I'm still scraping it out of my hair 5 days later, not that I'm complaining. I just look at it as a bonus - I mean, who would turn down free saliva?

Here's a very blurry cellphone photo of the view from our seats:

As for the show itself, it was even more incredible than I had hoped it would be. The set list was pretty much what I had expected: a few cuts from the new album (Effington, Kylie From Connecticut), a lot of the songs he usually does in his orchestral concerts (Narcolepsy, Smoke, Zak and Sara) and a few unexpected choices (One Down, All U Can Eat). The sound mixing was a bit spotty, with Ben's vocals and sometimes his piano being overpowered by the orchestra, but this was a pretty minor complaint - especially since, sitting as close as we were, we could still hear Ben singing even without the mike. For us, at least, it was definitely an unforgettable evening of great live music.

The audience consisted of a strange mix of Ben Folds fans, many of whom were high school or college age, and Philharmonic season-ticket holders, most of whom were well over 40. As a result, I overheard some pretty bizarre and interesting conversations over the course of the evening. It was a bit surreal, to say the least. I did feel sorry for some of the blue-haired old ladies scattered throughout the auditorium... While one would hope that they would at least find some amount of enjoyment in the orchestral arrangements of Ben's songs, the same could not be said for the boorish behavior of a few of the fans. Add in Ben's colorful vocabulary and you've got a recipe for some very uncomfortable grannies.

Still, I'd say that the atmosphere was largely very positive - after all, no one can engage an audience quite like Ben Folds. I think he likely made a few converts at this show, both for his own music and for live orchestra shows. The Philharmonic played a few pops selections at the beginning of the show before Ben came out, and they were all enthusiastically received by the crowd - especially the medley of Beatles songs. And the auditorium remained full until the end of the show, which would indicate that the season-ticket holders were enjoying Ben's show, too. Ah, good times!

This was, of course, only the beginning of a wonderful anniversary weekend mini-trip for us, but I can't think of a better way to start a vacation! I'll undoubtedly be posting some photos & details of the rest of our trip - nothing as exciting as being spat on by Ben Folds, of course, but lots of fun nonetheless - on my personal blog over the next week or so, for those who are interested in such goings-ons.

Oh, and join me back here soon to discuss the first few episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Now playing: Ben Folds - Ben Folds Live - 010 - Narcolepsy
via FoxyTunes

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