Monday, July 22, 2013

Guster, Ben Folds 5, Barenaked Ladies at Mohegan Sun

Montville CT - 7/19/13

So the 1990's are a long time ago in the rearview. Today we have Drake and Gaga, and Bieber, oh my! But back in the 1990's things were simpler. We had east coast/west coast, we had Biggie and Tupac, and we had a bunch of other great musicians. Musicians which it feels like are increasingly not appreciated for their great contributions to the art. 

So it was with some anticipation that my wife and I sauntered up to the bustling area of the Arena at Mohegan Sun to see alt-rockers Guster, The Ben Folds 5, and the Barenaked Ladies. These acts are largely distinct from one another but they all still know how to rock and roll.

There was a pretty low key opening act who we didn't make it inside in time for. I missed this acts name but the one thing I will say is that "opening act" is supposed to get the audience amped up for the show. This opener was nothing like that. A very subdued and mellow set put me in a decidedly languid mood even from the halls of Mohegan Sun.

Then Guster came out and livened things up. The still filtering in crowd responded in kind. Truthfully I had never been a fan of Guster before but I had many friends who were. However the points in their songs when people inexplicably began growling in anticipation were kind of lost on me. I mean I got it when the tempo picked up and the synth began blaring and people in the audience stood up and flailed about in a possessed trance like state but this music felt more like the symphony for a suicide for depressed girls with low self-esteem than anything else. But I guess we all have different tastes. 

Guster kind of redeemed themselves towards the end of their show when a ukulele and trumpet made an appearance for "What You Call Love." It was a catchy tune and I could see their appeal. "This Could All Be Yours" capped off their set and they left the stage in a thunderous blaze.

One spectator nearby me got up and left the show after they played. He raised his hands to the sky as he walked away and proclaimed "I can cry myself to sleep tonight," with some satisfaction. Like I said we all have distinct tastes.

The Ben Folds 5 came out onstage.

Apparently I am a lot more of a fan of Ben Folds than the Ben Folds 5. Most of their songs this night came from their collective catalog and I didn't recognize most of them. Apparently Ben Folds 5 has a new CD out so this tour is in support of that. They did play their breakout hit "Brick" as well as "Landed." But I felt cast out because I didn't recognize most of their songs. One tune "Song for the Dumped" began with a slap bass which was pretty cool. 

One thing which bugged me out was there was a digital clock on the stage that the audience could see. Ben Folds took that to heart and he counted down the last 2 minutes of the show in a narrative fashion which I appreciated.

Then came the Barenaked Ladies. Surprisingly, Barenaked Ladies still put on a good show despite the absence of former front man Stephen Page. They definitely engaged the crowd, performing both old and new tunes mixed with an abundance of welcomed nonsense & humor. This set was not what I expected, which turned out to be a good thing.

But the whole thing felt a bit truncated which kind of bothered me. I guess it's tough to get tours together that make any money but the demarcated fashion of the show really took me out of it. All in all it was great to see these acts together but I just wish there was some deeper integration.