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