Ben Folds and the PSO

On February 13th, Dave gave me a "Valentine's Day surprise" - he took me to a concert featuring Ben Fold's with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

We have both always enjoyed Ben Folds (although admittedly we haven't really kept up with his latest albums.)  Dave knew that as a former musician myself, I had a greater appreciation for symphony music than most, and he knew how much I loved the concept of rock piano, or rock violin, or combining any classical instrument with modern music.  He thought it would be right up my alley, and despite some concerns about the cost (we're on a budget now, after all!) he took the plunge and decided it would be a worthy surprise.

Sorry that it's blurry, but photos were prohibited, so I had to take this without the flash - I didn't want to get kicked out!

Dave and I don't go to a lot of concerts.  After an amazing summer experience working for Clear Channel Entertainment (which I have decided that I will tell you about in a separate post) in the summer of 2002, concerts lost some of their appeal to me.  During that summer, I had seen it all from perspectives very few people ever get to experience, and once you've been there, it's hard to go back to just being a "regular concertgoer."  I know I sound like a snob, but it's true.

So anyway, needless to say, I haven't been to many concerts since then, and I was a little apprehensive that this would disappoint.  Now, I know what you're thinking - wasn't this supposed to be a surprise?

Yes, it was.  And it largely was, until I sort of ruined it for myself, unintentionally.  You see, even though I didn't do anything at all to try to find out what the surprise was, I already knew the date (after all, Dave had to ask me to if we had any plans that night already), and I knew the time, and then one innocent day I saw a bunch of Twitter posts about this concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and I clicked on the link to a Post-Gazette article and I immediately knew that I had stumbled onto the "surprise."

I felt bad because I honestly didn't want to know.  I know that Dave works hard to try to surprise me, but somehow I usually guess successfully and that breaks his heart.  So I didn't tell him that I knew.  When he asked if I had any guesses, I just said yes, but wouldn't elaborate and when he pushed for more details I still refused to say a word.

Because after all, it's the thought that counts.  And really, this story is more about the thought behind why we went to the concert than the concert itself.  I know that there was a lot of thought.

Going to a concert in a symphony hall is a very different experience that your traditional PGP concert or club show.  Everyone had a seat - and sat.  Nearly everyone was dressed up.  We saw a bunch of people that we knew, and I'm sure that there were a ton more people there that we knew that we just didn't see.  I made the comment, "So THIS is what it would be like if we could afford to go out on the weekends to social events in the city!"  The event was sold out, and I'm pretty sure that the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has never had such a young, hip crowd in their concert hall.  I'm also willing to bet that they sold more alcohol beforehand than usual - the lines were so long at the bars that they were extended out into other rooms.

Anyway, I think Dave and I both greatly enjoyed the show, although it was a lot shorter than I expected (only 90 minutes, with no intermission.)  For $160, I would have liked at least a 2 hour show with a 15 minute intermission in between.  But - and I didn't learn this until the next day when I read the review in the Post-Gazette - apparently union rules stipulate that the symphony only has to play for 90 minutes.  Ben ended up playing for another 10 minutes after they orchestra members walked off of the stage, just him and his piano, and honestly, those songs were probably the best and most enjoyable of the night. 

Because deep down, even though everyone there originally went to experience this interesting new concept of symphony with rock piano, ultimately we realized we were there to hear the classics, to sing along at the top of our lungs, to stand up instead of sitting down, and to yell and cheer - just like we would at any old concert.


BeeKayRoot said...

I think I would have really enjoyed this show. I really enjoy piano rock and stuff like that. I've always been a big fan of SOmething Corporate, because of how they made the piano "hip".

You should check out Lourds Lane. She's the lead singer & violin player in LOURDS. Her music would probably be considered almost hard rock, and a lot of it I have a hard time getting into. But her use of the electric violin is amazing.

Hmm... now I'm in the mood to go to a concert.

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