I got my first Ben Folds CD in 2001, five years before I got my first phone that could take pictures that I could share on Facebook. I only mention this because the majority of Ben Folds concerts I have been to--well, ALL of the ones I had been to before Tuesday night--happened before October of 2006. It isn't exactly a novel idea that smart phones are removing us from experiences; it is now officially socially acceptable to whip out our phones at any "important" event and document it to death. At weddings, parades, birthday parties, graduations and concerts, it often seems like people are more interested in letting other people know they are there then in actually mentally being there for real. But I have never seen such a stark example of living through your cellphone versus living through your brain as Ben Folds at The Mountain Winery.
(Have you been to The Mountain Winery? Oh my god, if you can afford it, you should go. Pro tip which I did not know: you can picnic outside the venue and it is for real a mountain winery, with a crazy view, trees, picnic tables and fresh air. So get there early and have a picnic!)
Anyway, the venue is amazing but definitely caters to a different crowd than I am used to seeing at a Ben Folds concert ("used to" in the sense I haven't been to one in seven years "used to"). Even though the Barenaked Ladies were the headliner and I would say they cater to a slightly older, more serious crowd than Ben, I was surprised by how old, serious and wealthy this crowd was. Not that I have any problem with the older, more serious and wealthier than me, but if there is one thing about a Ben Folds concert it is: you have to sing a long. So that's fine if you're old and wealthy but not if you're too serious.
I went to Tuesday's show at The Mountain Winery with my long-time Ben-loving friend Jessie as my photographer. Jessie and I have been seeing Ben together since we weren't even old enough to buy alcohol at the shows. We've sang along with Ben in Seattle, Eugene, Portland and Jessie even saw him at Coachella 10 years ago when tickets were only $100 and you didn't have to spend a grand on a hipster outfit just to be let in the gates. Once when we saw Ben open for Tori Amos, we got to be right up against the stage because our loud singing was so horrifying to the Tori fans that they cleared a place for us while one muttered under his breath: "I hope they don't know any Tori songs."
"Don't worry," we said to each other later, "We don't."