Ben Folds to headline MAB winter show

By Kate Shepherd

Rock pianist Ben Folds will headline the winter concert at Mandel Hall on March 1, the Major Activities Board (MAB) announced yesterday.

Folds is renowned for his lyric-driven music and lists artists Billy Joel and Elton John as musical influences. Before establishing himself as a solo act in the early 2000s, Folds headed a succession of bands in the 1980s and 1990s, including a role as the lead singer and main composer of the band Ben Folds Five, a jazz-inspired group that remained active until 2000.

This is not Folds’s first time performing in Mandel Hall—he played a sold-out MAB show fall quarter of 2003.

“We wanted to give kids on campus now the opportunity to see him,” said fourth-year Justin Fleming, chairman of MAB. “He is one of the most popular artists amongst students here and really is a quintessential college performer on all campuses. We look for artists that will sell out and appeal to a broad range of students.”

Although Folds has not released an album since 2005, he continues to attract new fans among students, said third-year Dan Wade, MAB technical director.

“He has a lot of name recognition. I think a lot of people knew about him in high school and this show will reignite their interest,” he said.

“I will absolutely go to the concert,” said third-year Austin Birnie, a fan of both Folds’s solo work and Ben Folds Five.

Not all of the students who plan on attending the March performance consider themselves devoted fans. Second-year Alex Korbonits plans on going to the concert even though he only knows one of Folds’s songs.

“It gives me the chance to become more familiar with his music, and tickets are cheap, so why not?” Korbonits said.

Facebook helped MAB board members determine which acts are most popular on campus and which would attract the greatest turnout, said fourth-year Julia Reeves, MAB talent buyer.

The students on the MAB board began preparations for the winter show during autumn quarter, creating a list of artists and narrowing it down based on factors such as the organization’s budget and the artists’ tour dates, Wade said.

“In the winter we generally try to get comedians, but since Demetri Martin replaced the Decemberists for the fall show, our order has been switched around this year,” Fleming said.

Birnie said he is glad Folds is doing the winter show because he has been disappointed with the past few MAB shows.

“My first year they were great. They got Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Tweedy. Last year’s shows were really awful. I do not like stand-up comics so this will be a lot better than last quarter’s show,” he said.

Tickets go on sale starting Monday, February 25 in the Reynolds Club from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are $13 in advance and $15 at the door for students, and $15 in advance and $17 at the door for faculty and staff.