By Rebecca Fiedler
Though many Baylor students may be familiar with the use of Five For Fighting’s song “Chances” in the popular film “The Blind Side,” or have heard the band’s songs “Superman” and “100 Years” coming through their car radio, they can now experience the band live in concert.
At 8 p.m. Thursday on Fountain Mall, Five For Fighting will take the stage as the headlining act for Diadeloso, though Thursday’s weather forecast of the possibility of severe thunderstorms might complicate events.
Five For Fighting is composed of one man, John Ondrasik, its other members being musician hired to accompany Ondrasik.
Ondrasik said there’s always a wide range of ages in the audiences at his shows.
Five For Fighting’s performance will be catering not solely to the band’s fans, but to students who might not be as familiar with the band’s work. Waconia, Minn., senior Suzie Jacob said she thinks she might go to the concert if her friends are attending. She is familiar with the band’s song “100 Years” but is not making any efforts to see the concert based on fandom.
“I think they’re good. It’s not one of those bands where I’ve been a fan for years or something and I have to be there,” Jacobs said.
San Antonio junior Abby Ortiz said that she has been a Five For Fighting fan for years. She even considers “100 Years” to be a theme song for her own life. She plans on trying to attend Thursday’s concert.
“I really, really want to be there,” she said.
Ondrasik said he classifies himself as a singer-songwriter of the 1970s tradition. He said he began plinking away at the piano as a small child. He grew up listening to piano players Billy Joel and Elton John, to the Beatles and to songwriters like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.
“By no means do I put myself in their league, but I think it’s not a coincidence that my songs tend to have a message, and they tend to have a beginning, middle and an end,” Ondrasik said. “And those were my influence and I think that’s kind of what I do. I try to tell stories, express sentiments.”
Ondrasik has made six albums and has been able to make a living as a singer-songwriter for the last 10 years.
Ondrasik said he considers himself different than musicians who tour all the time. He chooses to tour less so that he can spend time with his family. Music is not the only passion Ondrasik has, either.
Ondrasik is a sportswriter who writes for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. He has written articles for the Sports Illustrated website about basketball and hockey. Even his band’s name, “Five For Fighting,” shows his love of sports, as it refers to a hockey penalty. In reference to his life of sports writing and music, Ondrasik noted that people often want to be something they are not.
“Athletes want to be musicians, musicians want to be athletes, and because I’m not a very good athlete, I’ll be a sportswriter instead,” Ondrasik said.
When talking to college students, Ondrasik uses himself as an example of success after many attempted failures once no one wanted to play his now-popular hit song “Superman” on the radio, and initially no record companies were interested in the song.
“When I talk especially to college kids about their dreams and aspirations, I always remind them, you know, that for me everybody passed on my biggest song, and you do at times have to, you know, trust your gut and go down with the ship,” Ondrasik said.
Ondrasik said he is looking forward to playing for Diadeloso and is hoping for the chance to meet Lady Bears basketball player Brittney Griner.
“For me as an older guy, it’s always fun to come and do the college shows, because you guys keep me young,” Ondrasik said. “We have a lot of fun. And for someone who’s very passionate about their sports, and someone who understands that you have one of the greatest athletes on the planet at your school, I’m very excited to come and perhaps meet her.”
Another reason Ondrasik said he will enjoy performing at Baylor is because it will be a diversion from the recent tragedy cast upon those affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday. Performing in the midst of such events is not alien to him.
“If you look back, ‘Superman’ was a big song around 9/11, and I played a concert for New York and I’ve had experience in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in playing for some of the victims and some of the emergency workers, and this attack today has kind of brought a lot of that back,” Ondrasik said.
Ondrasik said that he felt terrible acts were done by the bombers, but he saw good being done by emergency workers in response.
“You see incredible acts of heroism in this tragedy, this attack,” Ondrasik said. “I think you have to recognize it, but you also have to realize that the goal of the terrorists is to keep us from doing shows like Thursday’s, and to have us be afraid, but we need to continue doing what we’re doing and at the same time recognize those who were lost and recognize those who performed heroic acts today,” Ondrasik said.