The Presidents On President’s Day Eve Rile Up A Sold Out Crowd At Seattle’s Showbox, By Holly Homan

Presidents

Presidents

February 17th was the eve of President’s Day this year and what better way to celebrate than to see Seattle’s legendary Presidents of the United States of America — Presidents for short. The Showbox was packed solid for this second sold-out show and there were all ages present. I saw children ranging in age from about four years old to early teens. After some lackluster openers (more on them later), The presidents were introduced as a band that will never let you down (they’ve got that right), leader Chris Ballew bounced onto the stage like a rubber ball while other two members Jason Finn and Andrew McKeag and follow. They immediately grind out the chords to their 1995 hit, “Kittie.” Everyone knew the words, right down to the meow and the, “Fuck you, kitty, you’re gonna spend the night OUTSIDE!” This was followed by a series of love songs, or as Ballew explained, songs about dysfunctional relationships since President’s Day is so close to Valentine’s Day. “Mixed Up SOB” followed, with another of their early hits, “Lump” following that. So many were jumping up and down during “Lump” I felt the floor heave with their rhythm. During “Dune Buggy,” when Chris jumped, everyone in the audience followed suit and once again the floor heaved like a trampoline. He then beckoned everyone to take out their lighters and within seconds the floor was alight with lighters and cell phones. In the middle of “Monkey River,” Chris yelled, Led Zeppelin and started screaming, “Baby, baby, baby, baby” in his best Robert Plant voice before reverting back to “Monkey River.”

When introducing their song “SuperSonics,” Chris mentioned we had a basketball team and now we don’t have a basketball team. (Author’s note to Chris: We DO have a pro basketball team. Their name is The Storm and they’ve won two world championships — the only Seattle pro sports team to do so). SuperSonics was followed by “Peaches” (probably their quirkiest song), which inspired a few crowd surfers to slither over the barricade.
When the band left the stage, raucous cheers of one more song immediately ensued. They returned for about twenty more minutes, performing a cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” in which Chris proceeded to run back and forth across the stage several times. He ended the show by screaming the chorus from the old Motorhead classic, “Ace Of Spades” before the band left the stage for good.

Opening the evening was Campfire OK. This Seattle five-piece plays what I would call pop/folk. Campfire OK is the kind of band you want to listen to while relaxing in a Jacuzzi and sipping wine. Their songs were pleasant and melodic, though they should let the lone female member (Zarni De Wet) sing more of the songs. She had a crystal clear and very beautiful voice. I’ve since listened to some songs these guys have available on the internet and I enjoy them much more as a band to listen to. Their live set wasn’t very energetic and I prefer watching live shows that have more energy. They are the type of band you’d see at The Triple Door and enjoy while sitting down and sipping wine. They’re very versatile, vary accomplished musicians and I plan to listen to them more. I seem to get much more out of their recorded music.

The next act was some guy calling himself Aaron Daniel’s One Man Banned — a play on words as he was indeed a one-man band. He came on stage, golden curls roaming down his back and an electric guitar, which he played for a bit and sounded quite good. But then he got into all these special effects that just repeated his voice and the same monotonous words over and over again ad nauseam. This really grated on my nerves. I didn’t see the point of what he was doing or why. There were no songs, per se, just recorded special effects.

Just prior to The Presidents coming on stage, a clown with a big red ball appeared. Apparently this is Godfrey Daniels and the Red Balloon. He did all sorts of amusing and amazing tricks with his big red ball, just like he would as a circus side show. He was actually pretty funny and performed some difficult stunts with the ball. He only possessed the stage for about fifteen minutes, but his antics were very well received.

As for The Presidents, this show was the most fun I’d seen them ever. I saw them a few times in the 90s and even saw them perform after a Sonics game in 2003. They really aren’t capable of putting on a boring show and get my vote as one of the most entertaining live acts there is.

Holly Homan

Photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.

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