07.19.00 Washington, D.C.

RFK Stadium with Ozomatli, Dave Matthews Band

I Was There
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Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Setlist 1969-12-31 - RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.

Coming off a blazing set in pouring rain, Ben sat in on lap slide and backup vocals with DMB on their closer "All Along the Watchtower". Earlier in the night, Juan joined Ozomatli on "Superbowl Sunday".

Who Went

  • Nancy's picture
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julysmile84185's picture

Being in our Nation's capital, there are many sights to see such as, the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House. But, the only sight she came to see was here for one night only; it's Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. The air is cooler today, and it looks like there is a chance for rain. Of course, wouldn't you know it, the rain begins falling at 4:30p.m. and doesn't stop once. After seeing Ben, David, Dean, and Juan hanging out at the BH & IC promo trailer and chillin' in the rain for a few, she walks through the entrance of the stadium. Ozomatli is lifting the spirits of people in the stadium. She steps down onto the field and begins dancing to her seat. Towards the end of their set, Juan Nelson comes out on stage to jam along for one song. Ozomatli jumps down into the crowd and walks to the backside of the field to finish with a drum circle. What seems like moments later, when Dave Matthews steps out on stage to introduce the guys, is really 20 minutes later. He says, "If you don't know these guys already, get ready to have your heads blown off." BH and the Innocent Criminals take the stage; it's 7p.m. and still raining. Ben thanks everyone in the audience and mentions that the humidity really gets to the heads on David's congas, so it will be a couple while that gets situated. "Glory and Consequence" puts out the first jam of the night, and the rain appears to speed up in order to keep up with the music. Ben asks the crowd if John Riggins played at this stadium. A cheer gives an affirmative response, which then cues Ben to say, "Hell, yeah! Then this set is for J.R.!" The next jam of the night is from "Faded." The instrumental simply works the crowd and just keeps the energy flying. Ben thanks DMB "very, very much" and then jumps into "The Woman in You," rips it up and sweetens it with a few wails of "woman," and jumps back out with a sharp ending. Ben gives thanks to the audience for their response to the music and for puttin' up with the rain, "You're too cool...that's the bomb." Ben then introduces the rest of the guys. "That's Juan Nelson, also known as JBN and Papa Nelson. That's Dean Butterworth, also known as 'Fabio', The Naked One, and as Betty Smith, but that's after a couple shots of tequila and some bong rips. That's David, also known as the King of Reggae Music, and my name is...what the hell is my name again...oh, I'm Ben Harper, and we are Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. You're the bomb, thanks again." Without hesitation they dive right into "Burn To Shine" and lay out another incredible jam. Ben shares something that his friend had told him earlier with the crowd. After saying what it was, he says, "Who cares Ben?" Then he says, "Someone said, 'I care'...I heard you." "Forgiven" flows in with a long, soothing, and lyrical intro. And guess what...another kick ass jam. David slams it down on his cymbals at the end and tops it all off with his energy. The song ends and Ben involves the crowd in a lesson about his method. Lifting his instrument up from his lap he says, "This is a guitar actually. People keep telling me, 'Stand up Ben, stand up.' But you must make a lap to play it. There is an old African proverb that says, 'One must sit to make a lap.'...It has six strings." Ben then points into the crowd, smiles, and says, "Yo! What's up you guys?...Those are my cousins." Then he points to two other guys (Scotty Crowe and Francois Rollin) who are in the center section and says; "Those two guys have been with us since the beginning, well almost the beginning. They held up a sign that said 'Ben Harper is my Dad' and I can tell you, it made me a little bit scared." Then he puts his pinkie up to the corner of his mouth, making the Dr. Evil motion and follows it up with a Dr. Evil voice saying, "just a tiny bit evil." Ben then tells the crowd, "This next song is 'By My Side.'" This is another of her favorite songs: track 11 from the "Fight For Your Mind" record. The guys play it with a faster tempo, and when she hears the words, "you are my saving grace," chills are sent down and through her heart forcing tears out through her eyes. "Burn One Down" calms her and gets most of the audience clapping along and dancing while others hide under umbrellas. Ben is about to introduce the next song, but instead he decides to bring up an issue that would be appropriate for DC. Not being a political lobbyist, Ben says, "There's a man in prison and he's innocent." He speaks of Leonard Peltier, a Native American man who was convicted and sentenced for a crime that he did not commit. Ben continues, "Since we're in DC, one person has to know Bill Clinton." She sees one hand raise up in affirmation. "Tell Bill to let this man out; he's innocent. I am on my knees." Ben slides out of his chair and onto his riser to position himself on his knees. He places his two hands together with palms facing each other and raises them to his face, as to appear in prayer. Ben takes his seat once more and says, "This next song is for my friend, Mark, and for Leonard; it's called 'The Will To Live.'" She can feel the spirit of optimism rise throughout the audience as the emotion in the song releases a deep understanding for those really listening. Ben thanks the crowd for taking the rain again, "You're too much. Thanks to DMB and our road crew." Immediately after introducing Nick Rich, "Steal My Kisses" begins, and the audience lets out a roar of response. What other way would be better to end the night than a kickin' long jam? Well, that is the best way to end this night of rippin' jams. Nick steps down stage and pumps out a fat beat that gets everyone into it. Ben steps off to stage right for a second, returning to jump around with the guys and lead the people in a supportive clap beat. The song cuts out, and Ben leans over to his mic and graciously says, "Thank you very much" to the audience before leaving the stage. She stands still in the pouring rain trying to hold onto the feeling of the performance while observing as the Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals set-up is taken off the stage quickly. It begins to rain faster, so she decides that it's time to leave. While heading through the wet crowd and into the dry crowd, she transforms her poncho from an anti-wet protector to a beer deflector, and thinks to herself, what a great deal, a two-in-one. With her left foot drenched in beer; she walks through the exit and back into the rain to hail a cab. The remembrance of the show continues to repel the misery of the rain.