The last time Ben Folds Five played as a group in Los Angeles, the iPod had yet to be born, Y2K was a good year away, and Bill Clinton was still president. ... By the time they took the stage Saturday night at the Wiltern Theatre, it was a concert 13 years in the making, and both the band and the near-capacity crowd responded with appropriate enthusiasm.
... The troupe performed 20 songs from the Ben Folds Five library, offering a range of pop ephemera -- from the raucous stomp of the new "Erase Me" to fuzzed-out funky rocker "Jackson Cannery," from its self-titled 1995 debut. A constant: Fold's firebrand Jerry Lee Lewis piano-banging on songs like "Battle of Who Could Care Less," for which he stood crumpled over the keys, along with simple melodies (like "Brick") accompanied by lumbering notes from Sledge's upright bass.
The audience sang along to every word. In fact, at one point, all the band members stopped playing to listen to the crowd spontaneously erupt in two-part harmony.
Vocals aside, what really makes Ben Folds Five unique is Sledge's bass sound. The warm, distorted fuzz plays double duty, keeping the rhythm and filling the void in this guitar-less band. And where others might sound like they’re auditioning a theme song for a 1980s sitcom, Ben Folds Five is actually one of the hardest-rocking bands around. The tightness of the rhythm section with Folds' frenetic finger work creates a seamless synergy. Onstage, they traded licks and quips, even improvising a song that started as a blues number, shifted into jazz and ended as a soul number, with Folds making up hilarious absurd lyrics along the way.
Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.