Back from PUSAFEST 2011 in Seattle, WA!

PUSAFEST 2001 merchandise

Stef Rider at the PUSA booth, selling tees and CDs!

And what a weekend it was!

Let’s start with day #1, 18th Febrary 2011… after getting picked up from Seatac airport by fellow PUSAsuperfan Stef, we headed out to her digs in Bellevue and hit downtown Seattle in the early evening in order to get the merch set up! Check out Stef working hard to bring in the cash!..

Come 8pm the venue doors opened and I had already bagged my seat up in the bar area in order to catch some much needed zzzzzzz during support acts Black Whales and Spider John Koerner. Black Whale had a great drummer (PUSA’s part-time drum tech Davey) and most of the songs started off promising. Besides the big drum intros though, this band didn’t really do anything for me at all and largely contributed to the hour of sleep I managed to get at the bar. Note that by this time I’d been up for 24 hours straight so needed to shape up a bit before PUSA arrived… Spider John was as expected, covering many old folk tunes and bringing in a few originals. Chris Ballew came onstage to welcome him to the show and explained how he first came across Spider John at the back of a smokey bar with his eyes closed, singing away about little animals and insects. One of Chris Ballew’s main musical influences, he promised that it would be a great performance, and we weren’t left disappointed. The guy was clearly enjoying himself and it felt like he was a little bit out of his element playing this big rock venue with just him, his guitar and his hash pipe. A few more zzzzzs and a couple of Jagers later, it was time for PUSA! The band came out, Jason Finn fully kitted out with woodblock and cowbell (the first time these have been used for a live show in about 10 years!)

PUSA at the Showbox

Presidents of the USA 3-day residency at the Showbox

Here was the setlist for day 1 – Friday 18th February:

Rot in the Sun
Boll Weevil
Some Postman
Back Porch
Volcano
Jennifer’s Jacket
Lump
Ghosts are Everywhere
Nuthin’ But Luv
Bad Times
Candy
Mixed Up S.O.B.
Poor Turtle
Dune Buggy
Tiki God
Zero Friction
Froggie
Kitty
Peaches
Kick Out The Jams (w/ Ace of Spades)
_____
Stranger
Love Everybody
Candy Cigarette
Mach 5
We’re Not Gonna Make It

What’s even more awesome is that Chris dedicated Candy Cigarette to me!!! This is one of those Presidents tunes I’ve ALWAYS wanted to hear live and has never (to my knowledge) been played with Andrew. They learned it especially for the show and rocked it out big time. A nice mixed bag for this night, and Kitty into Peaches into KOTJ absolutely KILLED IT! Got to meet PUSAfan Corey aka Downtown from the official PUSA fan forum after the show who was a good time and we made our plan for the following night. It must’ve been 1.30am by the time we got out of the venue (this show was the 21+ and PUSA hadn’t even hit the stage until 11.30pm!) and thanks to Stef’s excellent knowledge of Seattle we managed to get back in one piece and try to sleep off some of those snowballing cobwebs.

PUSAfans and PUSAFEST 2011!

Timmy Dub, Corey Downtown and Seattle guy!

Day 2 was all-ages and doors opened again at 8pm, with 2 support acts warming up. Along with Stef and Downtown, we hit the Green Room bar at about 5pm after roaming the city and checking out Pike Place Market, Hard Rock Seattle and tasting fresh Seattle beers at the local brewery.  HUGE burger feast and a few drinks later, we got into the venue and managed to snag some bar seats alongside two huge PUSAfans who had driven 2 hours to the show. Once they found out I had come from Amsterdam, and Downtown from Orlando, they proceeded to tell us about these crazy bastards they met at PUSAFEST 2010… And of course it was PUSAfans Nicolai and his wife Vivi from Denmark!!! We heard all the stories and good times from the previous year and how Vivi got into trouble with the venue’s security… Something about those Americans and their alcohol policies that just doesn’t sit well with Europeans, no matter how hard you try! So yeah, Nicolai and family… The Seattle guys say hi! You must’ve had a lasting effect on this guy because he was drinking us under the table in the hours leading up to PUSA… Needless to say he was 100% passed out as we approached show time, much to mine and Corey’s amusment. It wasn’t until a huge whiff of someone smoking a bowl that woke him up and as if by magic, he was wide awake and ready to rock! We took down the front for another awesome show, including Candy Cigarette (again) and Bug City. Chris dedicated Candy Cigarette to me again as he got some of the words mixed up the previous night. He also changed the “and now I understand the Supernova scene” to “and now I understand the Timmy Dub scene” during Video Killed the Radio Star! Excellent! You can see Candy Cigarette and VKTRS below as someone (who must’ve been standing right next to me) managed to record them from up front:

 

 

AAA - PUSAFEST 2011! Day 1PUSA All Access pass - 19th feb 2011And the setlist from Day 2 – 19th Feb

Lunatic to Love
Dune Buggy
Highway Forever
Some Postman
Boll Weevil
Ghosts are Everywhere
Jennifer’s Jacket
Lump
Bug City (with bluesy interlude!)
Mixed Up S.O.B.
Naked and Famous (3x, 7x, 14x, 217x!)
Sharpen Up Those Fangs
Back Porch
Bad Times
Flame Is Love
PUSA All Access pass - 20th feb 2011PUSA aftershow pass - 19th feb 2011Munky River
Mach 5
Kitty
Peaches
Kick Out the Jams / Shout / Ace of Spades
——————-
Froggie
Body
Candy Cigarette
Video Killed the Radio Star
We’re Not Gonna Make It (w/Hair Of The Dog interlude)

 

Support acts tonight were much better than last night, with Young Evils (who were okay, nothing special, but seemed to go down well) and one-man act Jonathan Coulton, who cleverly mixed comedy and real-life scenarios with his acoustic nerd rock. The guy was cool on and off stage and got the crowd warmed up nicely for the show. Met with PUSAfans Lisa and her sister Heather, who had driven 6 hours from Portland for the show. It didn’t take much convincing, but we persuaded them to stay for the Sunday show and they were real troopers… Hours outside in the cold scalping for tickets finally paid off.

Day #3… Met up with them on Sunday for a fist-sized ice cream cone at Dick’s (seriously!) and had some beers whilst watching support act Steve Polz, who was also a one-man acoustic act incorporating an iPod into his set, to the extent where he even used the text-to-voice option to recite a song he had written earlier on in the evening! Andrew McKeag joined him onstage for a few songs at the end in what was quite a strange performance. He reminded me a lot of Ted Leo (from Ted Leo & the Pharmacists) with his jokes and aura.

PUSA hit the stage around 9 or 10pm, I can’t remember which, and Chris Ballew ran onstage, offstage, the entire way around the venue, and finally back to the stage before announcing that PUSA had arrived for the last show of PUSFEST. Again we were not left disappointed and got Bath of Fire, along with another mixup of the Presidents’ back catalog.

Setlist for Day 3 – 20th February

Lunatic To Love
Dune Buggy
Boll Weevil
Some Postman
Ladybug
Ghosts are Everywhere
Jennifer’s Jacket
Lump
Shreds of Boa
Bath of Fire
Froggie
Sharpen Up Those Fangs
Back Porch
More Bad Times
Deleter
Feather Pluckn
Volcano
Kitty
Peaches
Kick Out The Jams / Ace of Spades
——————-
Video Killed the Radio Star
Mixed Up SOB
Candy
We’re Not Gonna Make It

Everyone went home happy and the after-party ensued. Awesome times all round and a great PUSAFEST experience! Seattle is a great city and everyone should make a point to visit there one day. BIG THANKS to PUSAsuperfan Stef Rider who was a most excellent host and worked mega-hard to sort out the band’s merch business. There was a limited edition poster run (all of which were signed) as well as a limited PUSAFEST shirt and an even more limited Chris Ballew ghost shirt, actually designed by Stef herself!!!

PUSA Ghost shirt
Designed by Stef Rider, with original CB “Ghost” design
PUSAFEST 2011 shirt
PUSAFEST 2011 shirt

 

All of Stef’s mates, who were all really nice, and Corey, Lisa and Heather! Was great to meet you all and hope we can do it again sometime🙂 Oh yeah, and we also met the famous “Lightbulb Fantastic” and reminisced about those old YouTube vids of them playing a house party show. Good times!

So managed to not get thrown out of the venue this year (despite attracting security for falling asleep and then walking into the womens’ bathroom – long story), and have one last awesome tidbit…

It’s been forever on the table, but FINALLY it looks like we’ll be getting an official live PUSA record! I’m sure they secretly record a lot of shows, but this one was definitely laid down 4-trk style and they plan to pick the best ones for a PUSAFEST live CD. No idea if it will materialize, but it’s the plan and that is a good thing!

 

Thanks for reading, Tim

Chris Ballew & The Roy Kay Combo – LIVE video!

Great footage of Chris Ballew singing with The Roy Kay Combo at the Annual Elvis Tribute show (The Tractor, Seattle, WA – 7th January 2011)!

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Chris Ballew gets relaxed and arty for 2011

With 2011 only a few days old, Chris Ballew has already said he will release a song every day in 2011, only to quickly retract the somewhat optimistic statement. He did however promise that there will be regular updates on his Caspar Babypants website, featuring demos and other unreleased nuggets, as well as some new songs.

Check out this cool concept, from which Chris got some of his inspiration: http://www.behance.net/gallery/make-something-cool-every-day-2009/171640

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Maybe this will be and all-round artistic year, as he has already posted a new idea on his official Facebook page:

Chris Ballew plug 2011 art

UN-PLUG! CB’s 2011 attitude

 

PUSA perform Mach 5 on Jay Leno! (video – 1996)

A new YouTube video upload of the Presidents of the United States of America performing their hit single Mach 5 live on the Jay Leno show in 1996!

MERRY XMAS from PUSAfan & The PUSA Report!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from The PUSA Report. Happy Holidays and stay tuned to PUSAfan.com for more in 2011!

Don’t forget that the Presidents of the USA will be holding their annual PUSAFEST 2011 extravaganza over President’s weekend in February. PUSAfan will of course be covering it and expect big things from these rare PUSA performances!

As we move into 20-11, here is a little Jingle Bells to get you in the xmas spirit!

Presidents live at Prospecto 2010 – Day #1 – PUSA review!

taken from http://www.backstageallaccess.com/home/?tag=chris-andrus

Presidents of the USA playing live in Michigan

taken from Katy Batdorff, The Grand Rapids Press (MLive.com)

Wow. Who knew these guys were back together and still performing? And still performing catchy, goofy-ass songs about random shit? It began with the drummer apparently cutting himself and needing a Band-Aid, so the whole thing started off with an impromptu ditty about needing a Band-Aid. Even though they’ve ditched their suits for primary colored T-shirts, they haven’t lost a bit of their silly Seattle selves over the years.

I never got to see The Presidents back in the day, and despite the fact that some of their biggest hits like ”Lump” and “Peaches” are almost as old as I was when I first heard them, it was a fun time to see them done live. Getting to hear the unedited version of “Kitty” was a silly thrill. What? No “bleep you, kitty”? Sweet!

My favorite part of their show was in the middle of “Back Porch” when basitarist/lead singer Chris Ballew diverged into a story about how a giant, 40-foot baby with a dirty diaper knocked on his door, kept pulling out tiny banjos from his “crap saddle” and challenged him to Dueling Banjo-off (demonstrated with guitabassist Andrew McKeag). The baby won.

Unfortuately, the small crowd stuck out like a sore thumb. At one point, Ballew looked out into the venue and said “The whole city is missing this”. McKeag replied “Bummer for them”. So yeah, the band noticed too. Also, accorting to a recent post on their website, GR does not have any cheese curds. I hope they don’t hate us.

All in all, the turnout wasn’t as good as had been hoped for, but on a positive note, it did seem that everyone who did come had a great time.

Caspar Banypants – This Is Fun! – Album review

Caspar Babypants - This Is Fun! cd cover

When the new Caspar Babypants album dropped through the letter box a few weeks ago, it was that usual warm feeling of knowing that you’re about to hear something for the first time whilst also pretty much guaranteeing that it’s also going to be a great – a bit of a rarity these days, especially with the bombardment of uninspiring bands that have flown through the pipelines over the past ten or so years. Caspar Babypants however, now on his third album, seems to be immune to the disease that is poor and generic tripe and has moulded his own style to once again come through with an album that, although specifically aimed at children aged 2-8, is equally as enjoyable and contagious for parents and non-parents alike. I will challenge anyone to listen through this record and say they don’t enjoy it…

For closer fans of the man behind the mask (Presidents of the United States of America lead singer, Chris Ballew) the 20 songs are more of what we have become to know and love from this talented and wacky Seattlite over the past 20+ years, and this is arguably some of the most fun and catchy music he has ever produced.

“Third album syndrome” as I like to call it is one where most bands run out of material and subsequently burn out. Anyone who is familiar with Ballew’s music however will be more than aware that he is nothing short of a musical machine – and truth be told, the earth’s water supply will probably be dry before this guy runs out of songs. As part of his ongoing kid’s music project, this album (his third in under two years) is a clear cut above the previous two, which incidentally were incredible in their own right and received rave reviews from children’s music communities and parents worldwide.

Caspar Babypants at home with his guitar“This Is Fun!”, his latest venture, kicks off with a song that has been part of the Babypants live set for a while now, entitled “All You Pretty Babies”… An upbeat and fun number that’s sure to get the family dancing right from the get go. Similarly catchy and full of typical Ballew keys is the second number “Speedy Centipede” – A chorus that joyfully recites “Centipede I am lonely for you” and a number which also pulls in familiar vibes from previous Babypants albums; most significantly the intro, which sounds a lot like the Island Hop! Fans of Ballew’s musical escapades may also recognise and welcome this song to the fold, as it is in fact a re-do of an old demo of the same name, originally featuring on his “Caspar” cassette tape, way back in 1993.

As we move on, harmonicas and trademark Ballew sounds and lyrics ensue as “Legend of a Bone” tells the story of a lost bone and its endeavours, whereas “Where Do You Go” is able to accomplish much of the same and brings about the acoustic guitar to help try and solve the burning question of where various nature hides away during times of turbulence out in the wild.

Caspar Babypants shadowAvid fans of Chris Ballew will remember one of his previous projects under the alias “The Giraffes”, which helped satisfy his musical output towards the end of the nineties and which brought to light arguably his best ever work (up until now of course!). The sensational grooves and pop feel seem to seep through more on this new album than on any of the previous, especially during next track “Googly Eyes”, which I could even go as far to consider as being a strong contender for “best song”… By no means an easy feat!

The album progresses in much the same vein with a fresh version of Babypants live favourite “Shoo Fly”, followed by a tale of tigers playing musical instruments, quickly followed up with a dose of contagious country-flavoured-baby-hoe-down music in the form of “Bounce Your Baby”. You can then get lost in more baby antics as “Baby and the Animals”, which could easily have been performed as a Presidents song, brings back the harmonica vibe and is the perfect mid-album choice.

Not to be outdone by the long-aged shadows of the Seattle grunge scene, we even get a Caspar Babypants inspired version of Nirvana’s classic “Sliver”, with guest Krist Noveselic on bass (no less). The darkness of the track is cleverly screened with sweet acoustic riffs and unparalleled originality in the song’s adopted new lyrics… “Had to eat my dinner there… Mashed potatoes and stuff like that…” Little known fact; Ballew actually had to request Noveselic to redo the bass part as it wasn’t good enough! I guess Nirvana never really was intricate enough for the kids.

Caspar Babypants amongst a lot of guitarsThe colourful poppy sounds roll on through “Cukoo”, “It’s Gonna Rain” and “Frogs” – another very fresh version of a very old song from Chris’ library of music. With this particular song coming back to life all the way from 1985, it does seem to have that “eggy” vibe to it (EGG was Ballew’s band in the late ’80s) and will have everyone singing along “ooh yeah, they hop and they hop, away, away, away!”

We then get a more country and folk feel in “Mister Rabbit”, featuring Charlie Hope on vocals; full of great country harmonies and even a surprise acoustic rock-out in the middle! “Little Ditty” delivers us a more relaxed number, getting you in the mood for the soft “Buckeye Jim”, which has more going on in it than you can shake a stick at. Watch out for this track, it’s deceivingly good.

As the end becomes nigh there are still a few little nuggets left; firstly “Look At All These Elephants”, which, without hearing it yourself, can only be described as a really fucked-up nursery rhyme with trippy percussion. This is one where you probably need to be a kid yourself in order to understand it! It’s followed up by the deep “Tumble” – very much reminiscent of Ballew’s “Loose Balloon” song with the Presidents and featuring some Cypress Ghost-esque guitar from way below the surface. Elizabeth Mitchell joins the party for “Dark of Knight” and rounds the album off with another softer song. Great chorus and despite its soft nature, I couldn’t help but feel that there was rock in there somewhere, trying so hard to get out.

Overall this is an awesome record. A record that the kids will love. A record that the parents will love!

Review by: Timmy Dub, webmaster of PUSAfan.com

Go to BabypantsMusic.com to get the album from the beginning of October. If you’re quick then you’ll even get it signed by Caspar Babypants himself!

You can also buy the album from his shows in and around Seattle during October and beyond. See all his upcoming shows here!