Ben Folds put on a hell of a show Friday night at Cary's Booth Amphitheatre, but the front of the house may not have realized it.
The front third of the audience remained seated for the vast majority of Folds' performance, which included several brand new songs off his forthcoming album as well as old material all the way back to "Underground," off Ben Folds Five's 1995 self-titled debut.
Folds refrained from any knocks on suburbia during his two-hour concert, but he did share concern for the "duckies and turtles" surrounding the amphitheatre on Symphony Lake (yes, that's really its name).
"It's a rock show, but it's in the wilderness so they want to keep the decibel level down so we don't fuck with wildlife," Folds told the crowd early in the set. Actually, Ben, it's because the neighbors got pissy during a Poison concert a few years back, but that's a story for another time.
Folds' shows are known for their crowd participation on songs like "Army" and "Not the Same," but audience members weren't shy to cry out at other times too.
While introducing "Free Coffee," a new song, and explaining how he achieved different sounds — using Altoids tins and a distortion pedal — one particular asshole yelled out "Play the song, motherfucker!"
"I go around the world defending the south all the time," replied Folds, who appeared to be taken aback. "It's ok," he followed, "I like guys who say motherfucker."
Folds shared plenty of stories with the crowd — including an incredibly fake one about his father once blinding a woman with a liquor bottle at a .38 Special show at Walnut Creek.
Folds said he spent the earlier part of his day reminiscing in Chapel Hill. He visited his old apartment and stopped for a slice at Pepper's, where his image hangs on the wall. Only he mistook his likeness for Ryan Adams, commenting "that's one ugly motherfucker" before being corrected. "Thanks for that," he said.
The Cary crowd got its own "Rock This Bitch" moment when someone yelled out a particularly inaudible request. Folds responded by making a song up on the spot — on that ended with him flailing about the stage and (temporarily) breaking his piano (watch a part of the improv below).
Unsatisfied, dozens of fans called out for Folds and his band to play "Rock This Bitch" (a song written on the spot during the recording of Ben Folds Live, and he gave in — sort of.
"I have an idea. I'll play this song and then we won't play it again for a long time," he said before launching into the signature opening chords of "Bitches Ain't Shit," a Dr. Dre song he famously covered and released as a single.
And there, on a warm late spring night, were thousands of white people in the 'burbs singing a chorus of "Bitches can't hang with the streets." What else would you expect from a Ben Folds show?
You to Thank
All U Can Eat
Not the Same
Theme from "Dr. Pyser"
Still Fighting It
Bitches Ain't Shit
Zak and Sara
Rockin' the Suburbs
One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces