Sunday, February 16, 2014

Presidents of the USA acoustic set at the Triple Door

The Presidents of the USA are one of my favorite live bands. Fast guitar oriented rock and roll with silly songs that work on multiple levels (OK, sometimes they're just silly too), their music was a big part of the soundtrack of my life as Dana and I started our family. My kids grew up on Little Dune Buggy and Kitten and Lump. We didn't go to live shows for a pretty long time while raising children, so at the time my relationship with music was based on listening to the crappy radio in my car when I was going somewhere. Marco Collins introduced me to Lump and it made me smile and I felt better, happy and bouncy. I went out and bought the CD and I loved the whole thing. The CD became one of 3 that I'd replace when the kids ruined it, along with Alice in Chain's Dirt and Pearl Jam's Ten. I had to buy more copies of it due to simple wear, not so much child entropy. We simply listened to that first Presidents of the USA CD until it was ruined, then bought another, and repeated a few times as needed over the years.

Once the girls got old enough to go to shows I started taking them to some live shows - for the kids, you know. We caught PUSA at Bumbershoot back in the Memorial Stadium days, so we saw them with 18K or more others, and when Kitty started the crowd NAILED the "Meow.......Meow" and made me laugh out loud. When the cool fast bits like the break in Little Dune Buggy would hit the whole floor of the stadium would erupt in a frenzied in-place-pogo right on the beat and we all bounced and glowed with sweat and smiles and joy, even from the far side of the sound station (pretty far back). That was one of the cooler scenes I've seen, 5 or 6 thousand people in front of me and we're all bouncing up and down - the last few "Little Blue Dune Buggy" lines with that cool drum bit Finn pulls off, then the final drawn out "Littttlllllle Blllluuuuuuueeeeeee Dune Buggy" and the song ends perfectly and the audience starts screaming at the top of its 10 or 20 thousands lungs and I smiled at my kids and their friends as we all panted and caught our breath and kept screaming and bellowing and clapping. Peak experience for sure!

A few years later a buddy who was contracting for Microsoft in Redmond called and said "Microsoft has some bands playing outdoors on the campus on Friday, interested in coming?" I asked him who it was and he replied with "The Presidents of the USA" and a couple other bands. He had know idea who PUSA was; luckily he knew I liked live music so I got the tip & made plans.
On Friday I grabbed my 3 kids - Ben was finally old enough to go to shows too - and drove down and parked in a Microsoft parking lot and walked over to meet Jay in the grassy area between the buildings, nabbed a few free Microsoft microbrews (that sounds like a song title) and rocked out to the Presidents in front of tiny crowd. Chris was in rare form, riffing about wealth and a paperclip, and they did Lump in an odd half time pace, before then going back and doing it normally (which is pretty fast). They also got "last song" way too early, which was too bad and made me wish they hadn't done 2 versions of Lump. Still it was an awesome intimate show that rocked out.

I managed to catch PUSA a few more times, once at Showbox at the Market for a Presidents Day Weekend show and once at Bumbershoot in the Key and they never failed to put on a fast electric show. One of my favorites, they consistently rock your asses (they even say so in Kick Out the Jams, so it must be true) and Chris gets going on some of the most bizarre tangents and they spin up bits about froggy and hell and drug abuse that are indescribable, you simply had to be there. I also enjoy the last song intro, where they start playing and wander through 2 or 4 other songs for just a bit, then without missing a beat launch into Video Killed the Radio Star - they do that one very well.

I was happy to see the Presidents were doing Presidents Day weekend shows this year - Friday in Portland, Saturday at the Showbox and Sunday at the Triple Door for a couple of acoustic shows - their first ever acoustic shows. Well! I'd have gone to the Showbox if I could, but I'd already committed to going to the EMP Sound Off! that day. Time to go see the Presidents acoustic show!

We got some friends and booked the last table for the late show and shared a table with Mike & Nancy & Dawn. I enjoyed getting to eat and drink while watching the show, the Triple Door is a great venue.

I didn't take any photos or videos, so this is an unusual blog for me. All text, nothing visual or sonic.
The Presidents were solid - they're great musicians, and playing with 4 and 6 string instruments (twice their normal setup & I'm not kidding) added some complexity and range to the guitar sound. McKeag used quite a few effects which allowed him to get the sustain and even a little feedback on his guitar, so some of the songs sounded just a bit electric, yet even the most "electric" sounds still had that clean acoustic guitar tone ringing through it.
They played sitting down and while Chris was in good form, this was there second show that night and he wasn't quite the his normal hyperkinetic self. I'm not sure if it was the 2nd show or playing sitting down, but he kept most of his activity to the patter for a good half of the show.
Chris and Andrew got up and played at the edge of the stage at one point, egging on the crowd and having a good time. They also did a couple of the synchronized moves walking across the stage and so forth which was all greeted enthusiastically by the crowd.
I hadn't planned on blogging about the show so I didn't take any recordings or photos, not even any notes. They led off with Kitty so we got to meow right away, although the lack of the electric bass line that normally plays there threw the crowds meows off a bit. PUSA played several obscurities, explaining which obscure release the song was on, but I failed to catch the details - sorry! They played 3 or 4 of the new ones and plenty of the old classics like Little Blue Dune Buggy, and they did Lump in an odd slow tempo again which reminded me of the Microsoft show and paper clips. They did Naked and Famous - 30 foot smurfs! and I really appreciate getting to hear Candy. They dropped We're Not Going to Make It and Video Killed the Radio star and finished up with Kick Out the Jams. We done kicked them out!

The beats and transitions in Naked and Famous - "those lucky bastards..." were wonderful and had me singing along and bouncing in my seat. Candy is one of my favorites and they nailed it.

Fun set, the band was tight, creative and technically very good, putting on a great show as always. We all had a good time, and the food and drinks were excellent. The Triple Door is a great venue, if you're considering seeing a band you like there do it, do it right and do it early. Get one of the tables that's close by signing up for 5 tickets and the table immediately, you can take your time finding 4 friends to take but don't wait to select a table or you'll be further back.

Of course you should always see the Presidents of the USA every chance you get. They're a great Seattle band that puts on fun and funny shows that are quirky and exciting and so totally worth seeing each and every time. Highly recommended across the board!

I've seen Caspar Babypants a few times, so about the only near PUSA experience I missed is Subset, a Seattle super group with Sir Mixalot and the Presidents that managed to come and go before I got enough of my bleep together to go see them.
So here's to a Subset reunion show when the PUSA get done touring behind the new album.

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