Mraz and Folds draw thousands

The Smith Center was packed with screaming fans Friday night – though this time not for a basketball game.

Musicians Jason Mraz and Ben Folds co-headlined a concert in the venue which drew crowds estimated at 3,800 and had students lining up early in the afternoon to secure prime seats.

Along with Folds and Mraz, the concert also featured the GW Vibes a cappella group, which was chosen by Folds out of all the a cappella groups on campus to perform at the show. The group opened the event singing “Rich Girl,” “Breaking Up” and “Missing the War.”

Folds was the first headliner to perform, playing songs from his newest album, “Way to Normal,” as well as from a number of his older albums. At the end of his set, Folds sang the full version of “Cologne,” jumped on a piano in imitation of an orchestra conductor and threw his chair at the piano.

After a 20-minute intermission, the Smith Center suddenly became dark and silent until Mraz’s voice emerged. The crowd danced and sang along to songs like “The Dynamo of Volition” and “Only Human,” before Mraz ended his set with his hit “I’m Yours.”

Between songs, Mraz interacted with the audience, imparting advice like “Life is a search for metaphors for life,” and teaching the crowd dance moves before playing the “The Dynamo of Volition.”

Fans were lining up outside the Smith Center as early as 2 p.m. to get the best spots possible for the 8 p.m. show.

“I want to get as close as possible because this a Valentine’s Day gift for my girlfriend,” said junior Nathan Wolfson. “Ben Folds and Jason Mraz are two of my favorite musical acts so it is completely worth it to get in line early.”

The event was sponsored by Program Board and WRGW. The sponsors opened up the concert to area college students to help fill the Smith Center – though the event did not sell out.

“We are very happy with the turnout from both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Elissa Davis, executive vice president of Program Board.

Davis said she had been getting “positive feedback” from students from other schools that were in attendance.

In between acts, a crew of WRGW staff and volunteers cleared the stage and set up the instruments for the next musical set.

“I am excited not only because I get to work on stage but also because I got into the concert for free,” said sophomore Josh Palgon, a member of the stage crew and a WRGW staff member.

After an evening of dancing and singing along with the musical acts, most students interviewed said the show did not disappoint.

Josh David, a freshman at the University of Virginia said, “It was a good show because Ben Folds and Jason Mraz have two different fan bases, but together they make everyone happy.”

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