Indiana Daily Student

Five for Fighting finishes tour at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater

<p>John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting performs, tells life stories and interacts with the crowd during his performance Sept. 22 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Ondrasik alternated between a guitar and a piano and was accompanied by a string quartet as he performed fan favorites and popular singles “100 Years,” “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” and “Chances.”</p>

John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting performs, tells life stories and interacts with the crowd during his performance Sept. 22 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Ondrasik alternated between a guitar and a piano and was accompanied by a string quartet as he performed fan favorites and popular singles “100 Years,” “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” and “Chances.”

Five for Fighting and a string quartet performed at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as football fans watched IU take on Michigan State in the bars down the street.

“I’m not sure who planned a Five for Fighting concert the same night as an IU home game,” the band’s creator John Ondrasik said. “I’m just glad somebody showed up.”

Ondrasik, better known as Five for Fighting, rose to fame in the early 2000s for a string of Billboard-topping hits. While Five for Fighting began as just his solo stage name, the inclusion of two violinists, a cellist and a viola player, have made the band an actual group of five.

Ondrasik said the accompaniment of the string players have allowed him to pull different, more challenging songs out of his catalog. 

“Along with some diversions into self-indulgence,” he said, laughing. 

Ondrasik provided many comedic moments throughout the night. He began by telling the crowd this was his second time in Bloomington this year, because of a college trip to IU with his son. The visit was in January and his son “decided he couldn’t handle the minus 20 degree windchill.” Later, he discussed the perils of being an aging musician who has to start hearing his songs on “oldie stations.”

Another signature part of Five for Fighting’s performances are the contextual stories behind each song.

Ondrasik, a natural born storyteller, discussed the sociopolitical climate of a post 9/11 United States which led to his break-out song, “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” becoming a grieving nation’s unofficial anthem. 

Ondrasik and the string quartet played all his most famous sentimentally sweet, yet sad, songs, including, “Chances,” “The Riddle” and “100 years.” 

The best parts of the night, however, were when they played things the crowd wasn’t expecting. At one point, Ondrasik left the stage and let the quartet battle it out in “a musical war.” The last song they played of the night was a drastically different version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with Ondrasik singing at the piano. 

Three freshmen at Bloomington High School North said unanimously that the reimagined Queen song was the highlight of the concert.

“I kind of dragged them along,” Ella Mankowski said, pointing at her two friends. “I saw them in Chicago when I was really young. I’ve been listening to them my whole life.”

After the encore, Michael Elliot, a retired music teacher, was in awe of the performers.

“Oh, what a fun show. You don’t get to see people like this very often,” Elliot said. “The music, the words, the stage presence. It’s impossible how talented these people are. It looks effortless, but oh boy, you have no idea how hard it really is.”

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