Ben Folds rocks the Hill

By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily News Editor
Published April 12, 2013

After his sell-out show at Hill Auditorium on Thursday night, recording artist Ben Folds performed in a much more intimate setting at the University of Michigan Hillel.

Folds’ concert performance was the final product of SpringFest, a series of events put on by MUSIC Matters, a student organization that holds a yearly concert to raise money for charity. This year, the money will go toward a scholarship for low-income students.

A year in the making, the second annual event likely raised more than the $100,000 collected at last year’s J. Cole concert, through sponsorships, letter campaigns and ticket sales.

The group also hosted a Battle of the Bands contest last week at Scorekeepers bar and grill. The winner of the talent competition, Motel Model, was the opening act of Folds’ show, performing before California-based band Radical Something.

LSA senior Megan Pfeiffer, vice president of MUSIC Matters, said the club decided to feature Folds to bring a different flavor from the last year’s concert.

Though she believes the event raised more money than last year’s, Pfeiffer said the exact figure isn’t known yet, and the organization will release the figure in a few weeks. Regardless, MUSIC Matters is one of the first student organizations to endow an incoming University student with a scholarship based on need.

Pfeiffer said MUSIC Matters collaborated with Hillel, CSG and several other organizations to make the night’s events a reality. The group is also working with the Graham Institute and the Student Sustainability Initiative to ensure the long-term sustainability of this scholarship.

“We’re doing a lot of collaboration,” Pfeiffer said. “We all get things out of it, we all have the same goals.”

During a brief speech to members of Hillel and MUSIC Matters at the after-concert talk, Folds discussed why he believes music is an important part of education. He said it was amazing that college students took the initiative to raise scholarship funds for a fellow student.

“When I was your age, it was like a dog-eat-dog world,” Folds said. “I commend you for whatever’s happening in the world that people are getting involved in such a good way.”

Folds also took time to discuss music therapies and the importance of musicians and artists today. Following the speech, he took about 40 minutes to answer questions and give advice to budding musicians and inspired fans.

“I’m more and more into (charity) because it feels and good and my intuition is that’s what music is worth,” he said. “I just want to be useful.”

Topics in the question-and-answer session ranged from his infamous Chat Roulette concert improvisations to the meaning behind certain songs and lyrics.

LSA junior Gianna Marx, MUSIC Matter’s vice president for publicity and advertising, said her favorite part of the planning process was working collaboratively with her team. Pfeiffer seconded Marx’s notion.

“We all came together to accomplish one goal,” Marx said. “It resulted in an awesome experience for everyone.”

LSA freshman Sahar Atassi, a member of MUSIC Matters, said her favorite part of the evening was the talk after the concert because of the personal anecdotes Folds shared.

“It’s interesting to hear his viewpoints,” Atassi said. “He’s an inspiring artist so it’s interesting to pick his brain a little bit.”