07.21.00 Buffalo, NY

Ralph Wilson Stadium with Ozomatli, Dave Matthews Band

I Was There
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Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Setlist 1969-12-31 - Ralph Wilson Stadium - Buffalo, NY

"Ground On Down" was originally the first song on the setlist, and "Excuse Me Mr." was supposed to follow forgiven. Ben jokingly admitted he didn't know how to read a setlist.

Who Went

  • Nancy's picture
  • O.N.'s picture
  • rob75446's picture
  • tim_batke58309's picture
  • Slint's picture


julysmile84185's picture

The parking lot surrounding Ralph Wilson Stadium puts off the vibe of a festival. There are people walking around looking for tickets, while others sell tickets at a price higher than face value. The weather couldn't be better...sunny with a light breeze, perfect for setting that party vibe. It's late afternoon when she sees a huge line forming next to an entrance. There is no way that the gates are being opened at this time. She moves in closer to see what is happening, only to discover that the straight line of people leads directly to Ben Harper. She stands at a distance to observe the scene. People, being completely caught off guard, wait patiently to speak with Ben and get an autograph. A television crew, which consists of an interviewer and a cameraman, move past everyone waiting in line to get a few words from Ben. Ben takes it all in his stride; he talks with everyone in the everlasting line before disappearing in a van that would take him to the backstage area. After ten minutes of listening to people explain their encounter with Ben Harper, she finishes her drink and begins walking toward the closest entrance. She walks through a cornfield of people and down a small stairway to get to her seat on the field before the set begins. Upon arrival at the bottom of the stairway, a guy puts his hand out for her ticket stub. Without questioning, she hands it to him so that he may mark it and another guy can wrap an orange strip of package paper around her wrist. This is the first place since Pittsburgh to use bracelets to identify field seating. A few minutes later, Dave Matthews walks out on stage with his hands in his pockets to introduce BH and the IC. The people around her are yelling so loudly that it makes it difficult to hear what Dave has to say. She could barely make out, "Thanks to Ozomatli...you're all in for a beautiful surprise...ya'll have a fine time with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals." Dave leaves, and the guys come out. Ben leads into "Don't Take that Attitude to Your Grave" with a repeated lyrical "you say" which influences a listening crowd. A hard core jam takes over and moves right into "Concrete Jungle." A few lines from "Attitude" top off the jam, and Ben then solos a lyrical intro for "One Road to Freedom." Having not heard this song for some time now, she sways her hips from side to side while nodding her head; she just flows with it and smiles. When the song ends, Ben asks, "Is anyone here today free?" Plenty of people cheer, but she wonders, how many different definitions of "free" are there? Ben raises up his hand to gesture a peace sign for a "guy in orange...I see you; that's for you." Ben tells the crowd that the next song will be "'Ground On Down'...that's how I felt when I woke up this morning." Having already delivered another of Ben's guitars, Tom Tyler runs back out on stage to correct Ben. Ben then says, "Apparently, I can't read. I'm going to change the setlist on you, but it's live, it happens. The next song is 'Forgiven' and that's not how I felt this morning." "Forgiven" begins with a sweet and long intro and rips through the rest. She listens closely to parts of Juan's bass line, which add such a wonderful dimension to the song. Ben thanks the crowd and then introduces "Juan Nelson, Dean Butterworth, the naked one...we've got The Juan and the Only' and 'the naked one.' David Leach on percussion. Thanks to Ozomatli, Ben Harper fans, and DMB." Ben then talks about the response that he and the guys sometime receive, "some people sit there and look at us like we're not quite from Earth...I assure you that we are from Earth...well, some of us." Once again, she could understand that comment completely, but in her own sense of the meaning. Ben plays around on the bridge of the guitar, cutting in and out before dropping into "Ground On Down," belting out a huge wail. For the first time at a Ben Harper and IC show, (well, at least that she's been at) an extra-extra-large beach ball goes bouncing over her head. Juan steps up and increases the power and impact of the song. Dean drills it out at the end of "Woman in You," and the only way she can describe it is as brutally beautiful. "Burn One Down" gets most people up dancing and clapping. Just before the chorus, she sweetly laughs as Juan plays with a lighter and then proceeds to move down stage to get people to sing along. He makes motions as to smoke a non-existent joint and then tosses it down. It fits the mood just perfectly, not to mention the rhythm of the song. David prepares to let it all go on his drum but has to hold it back due to time restraints. She smiles uncontrollably and keeps dancing as "Faded" transmits an incredible energy. Dean's cymbals deepen the jam and truly enable the lyrics to be felt. Nick Rich comes out to end the set with the guys on "Steal My Kisses." The song practically shakes people right out of their seats and into a dancing and singing mood. The beat box rhythm has an unbelievable power that gets people interacting while dancing, and nobody wants to sit. The energy is rising, and Ben cuts out his guitar so that he can get up to dance. Well, he stands up and dances for a minute or so, but then he leaps over two floor speakers at once and keeps movin' as if he had been in the same spot the whole time. The jumping is out of control tonight, but unfortunately, 8p.m. has arrived, and the set ends, no more jumping and no more beat. Ben steps onto a platform that is just off of down stage to receive a gift while the other guys vacate the stage. Ben tosses a tiny something into the audience and turns around to exit the stage. Forced to stand still by the intensity of the music that has filled her, she quickly thinks of a way to describe tonight's experience. Basically, but not nearly simply, Pleasure, Power, Love, and Amazement traveled into Ralph Wilson Stadium as people tonight and expressed themselves through notes, lyrics, rhythm, and an undeniable bond.