BWW Review: REGINA SPEKTOR AND BEN FOLDS Dazzle Under the Stars at Wolf Trap Filene Center
A night of storytelling under the stars was just the way to celebrate a respite from this terrible heat wave. On Wednesday July 26th at 8 pm hundreds of fans, young and old, gathered at Wolf Trap Filene Center to watch master artists Regina Spektor and Ben Folds hit all the right notes.
Wolf Trap is a uniquely special place. Before any of Wolf Trap's concerts in their 2017 summer season take a hike with the family, grab a bite to eat, or split a bottle of wine on the lawn with friends at the only national park dedicated to the performing arts. To quote the great Regina Spektor: "I wish I could stay here and just hike for three days instead of touring."
Ben Folds opened the show promptly at 8 and managed to deliver the musical intensity of a full band with a single piano. His command of the instrument is worth the price of admission, but when coupled with his quirky, biting storytelling he easily brought the crowd to its feet. Folds played through many fan favorites, inviting us to sing and clap along through "Uncle Walter", a song about a young man left alone (for too long) with an opinionated relative of his significant other, "I'm Not a Fan", chronicling three weeks in the ill-fated relationship of a couple who disagree about their taste in art, and "Effington", a reference to Effingham, Illinois ("If there's a God, he is laughing at us/ And our football team").
Folds, recently named Artistic Advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra, took advantage of the idyllic outdoor venue to lead the audience through a three part harmony in the middle of his set. He conducted with vigor and humor, and at times the sounds we produced felt something like magic. My first exposure to Ben Folds as a freshman in college left quite an impression: A boy I had a major crush on sent me Folds' love song "The Luckiest" after about two months of dating and it became the soundtrack of my summer. During Folds' inevitable encore I got to hear that elusive middle ground between emotional sincerity and the overly sentimental when Folds announced, "I'm playing this one for the couple I met on the street today, though I don't remember their names." Not to get overly sentimental, but the boy I had a crush on in college and I are now engaged. We enjoyed it.
After a brief intermission to freshen drinks and take in the scenery, night fell and Regina Spektor took the stage. The classically trained Russo-American singer/songwriter entered without pomp or circumstance, nervously imploring us to settle, before getting to work. Halfway through "The Calculation" Spektor had to stop and skip the song completely due to some technical glitches. Amidst a chorus of "we love you!" she chalked half of it up to nerves and half of it up to "sucking", but you would be remiss to take her word for it. Regina Spektor is a powerhouse.
For the next hour and a half we were on a musical adventure, watching Spektor's nimble fingers move across piano keys like dancers. Her set was religious, political, philosophical, and patently impressive. Spektor and her band played through favorites like "Grand Hotel", "Eet", "The Light", "Better", and the Grammy nominated track "You've Got Time" (from Netflix's Orange is the New Black). Ben Folds came to the stage for the encore and our calls for a cover of Lin Manuel Miranda's "Dear Theodosia" off The Hamilton Mixtape were brilliantly answered.
Wolf Trap Filene Center was the ideal venue for this crowd pleasing, heartfelt concert. While this was a one-night only event you should head out to Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA for any of their exciting summer offerings. To see the schedule of events head to www.wolftrap.org