Photo taken from news footage.
SetlistBenefit for the "Chicken Soup Brigade" (a Seattle organization providing services for those with AIDS and HIV)
The Presidents of the United States of America, who disbanded due to bassist/vocalist Chris Ballew's desire to spend time with his family, will play a grand finale at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on Jan. 31, 1998.
Proceeds from the show will benefit The Chicken Soup Brigade, a Seattle-based AIDS charity.
The Presidents Hail And Farewell -- With The Full Support Of Their Fans, The Rockers Resign Their Posts And Look To The Future
He's not resigning, but they are.
The Presidents of the United States of America, the comic relief of Seattle's rock universe, are calling it quits after a spectacular three-year run. The trio plays its last show at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Paramount Theatre. The show sold out in 15 minutes.
The minimalist trio - Dave Dederer and Chris Ballew play guitars with strings missing and Jason Finn plays drums - enjoyed two platinum albums, a Grammy nomination and songs on several movie soundtracks, toured the world and were video favorites on MTV.
The Seattle band grew out of Dederer and Ballew's longtime friendship, going back to junior high. They began writing songs together in 1985, playing them (along with covers) at parties. Finn first met up with the two in 1991 but didn't become a full-fledged member of the band until 1993.
In its early days, the band would make up a new name each time it played. When they introduced themselves once as The Presidents of the United States of America - the longest name they could think of - it stuck.
Tomorrow's last hurrah will include songs from both Presidents albums, some covers and some new songs. The show will be opened by another light-hearted Seattle band, Young Fresh Fellows.
On the Road with P.U.S.A. by Anne Dederer
Some of you may know that I used to write this column for the presidents of the united states of america fan club newsletter "the chicken wire". If no one minds i’ll make this my last on the road with p.u.s.a column. As you all
know, on December 17, 1997, Columbia Records announced that p.u.s.a. was breaking up. As Jason put it, pusa broke up for the same reason Soundgarden did, "Chris quit" . I tell you when I heard that quote I laughed OUT LOUD.
It made the break up less sad for me. A few days later , the END (107.7 radio) announced that the very last pusa show ever would be held on January 31, 1998 at the Paramount theatre right here in the guys’ hometown :Seattle
, WA !! The tickets went on sale that Saturday and it came as no surprise to hear that they sold out in TWENTY minutes. WOW.
So , the 31st seemed to be ages away. But it finally came. I went with my brothers and sisters in law (we are all dave’s proud cousins) and my long time presidents fans friends, Katie and Sarah. The doors opened at 8:00. We got there at about 8:30. The will call line, where we
needed to pick up our tickets and backstage passes, was way long ! But it seemed to be full of Dederers , Ballews, Finns, and many many friends. While we waited in line we saw lots of people and reporters and cameras. I ran into Marco Collins from the END. We talked about the
Presidents and how it was sad to see them go but it was good that they were leaving us while they were still on top ! (As I was talking to Marco I remembered about 3 years ago when I convinced him to go to his first President’s show at Moe...I guess he was glad he went way back
then !) Once we got our tickets, we hurried into the Paramount. It was packed. The show had turned into quite a media event. All I cared about was seeing the guys ROCK! The Young Fresh Fellows were playing when we
got inside. They were the perfect choice to back up the President’s on their last show. By the time we got backstage, the Fellows had finished playing and everyone was milling around backstage. There were many famous Seattle faces including Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd, Conrad Uno, Kim
from the Fastbacks and many more ! It was a P.U.S.A. fan reunion and the excitement just kept building !. About 9:15 or so I saw Chris, Dave , and Jason heading for the stage, so I tried to stay out of their way and went out front to get a spot in the pit. And then the show started! The
guys were in top form ! They were really excited and jumped around the stage more than ever. They rocked the house soooo hard. Unfortunately, because we were all so excited , none of us can remember the order of the songs in the set. I do know that they played every single song from
the multi-platinum debut album plus most of the songs from "II" , "Video Killed the Radio Star"(currently heard on "the wedding singer" soundtrack and a all time live pusa favorite), and a new song "Mobile
Home" that will be part of the new pusa c.d. "Pure Frosting". It was a full banquet of tasty presidents tunes..
Although the whole show was so great there were some especially memorable moments. At one point, I think during "Naked and Famous", Kurt
Bloch from the Fastbacks came out on stage and cut out some serious riffs. Later in the next song Dave got really enthusiastic and jumped really high and fell backwards. For a second he didn’t get up, and I held my breath. But then just as quickly he jumped up with a big grin on
his face and started jumping around all over again!
After the guys left the stage for the first time, the entire crowd, moms , kids, long time froggy fans, and the old men who had slid off the back porch, all went crazy! It was almost louder getting the guys out
for an encore than when they were actually playing. Thankfully, those wonderful prezzies didn’t make us wait for them too long. When they came back out for encore they played(at least) five more songs! Of course no one really wanted it to end.. but I guess it had to. The very last song
they played was "we’re not gonna make it". Chris sang the last line with these words from that old Barry Manilow song.."looks like we made it!!!". And they sure did. With that Chris smashed his lil’ red two string basitar into little bits and ran off the stage. Jason then
followed Chris by kicking his drum kit off the stand. Surprisingly, Dave just thanked everyone , waved and ran off stage with no guitbass destruction. Just as I was saying "why didn’t Dave smash the guitbass ?!!", he ran back out on stage and slammed the guitbass on the ground
until it was in about 45 pieces.
The show was sad, happy,emotional, and so much fun. I told Chris after the show that they were a big part of my life and they really really were. I will miss their rocking ways. Keep an eye out for Chris,
Dave, and Jason. You’ll see them soon, doing all their new projects! (Don’t forget to look for Chris’s new project "the giraffes" new c.d. on Feb 17 and the final P.U.S.A. album," Pure Frosting"
Final PUSA Concert by Matt Ballou
The Presidents of the United States of America put on an excellent final show this past Saturday. While the opening band was somewhat disappointing, the Presidents were very enthusiastic in their performance and drew an even
more enthusiastic reaction from their fans. The opening band, the Young Fresh Fellows, while very enthusiastic, was not able to get the crowd into their music. What can you expect from a band who says, "Here is one of our
latest songs. It's from 1989"? The highlight of their performance was when Dave came out and sang part of a song with them, spraying beer on the crowd as the song ended. Once the Presidents came on stage, the crowd really got
into it and the Presidents did not disappoint.
They played for more than two-hours, including nearly every song from "PUSA" and "II". They even gave us a listen to a new song called "Mobile
Home," that will be on "Pure Frosting". The favorite song of fans, however, was "Supersonics," an alternate version of "Supermodel" that is a tribute to Seattle's NBA team. Another highlight of the show was a tribute to "the
other band that just broke up," Soundgarden. The Presidents did a great cover of "Spoonman." The concert ended with the song "We Are Not Going to Make It." Tacked on to the end of the song was, "I guess we made it!" Chris
smashed his guitar and Dave tossed handfuls of picks into the crowd. As the crowd dove for the floor to pick up the picks, I was lucky enough to find a couple.
This was my first Presidents concert, and unfortunately my last. It was a
very enjoyable show and was one of the loudest events I have ever attended. The music was cranked up very high and the crowd was as loud, if not louder than, any Seattle Mariners games I have attended in the Kingdome (which got VERY loud in the 1995 playoffs). Good luck in the future to Chris, Dave, and
Few Northwest bands have ever had as lovely a send-off as the Presidents of the United States of America, but then most bands break up after a show, not before.
Singer/demi-bassist Chris Ballew of the Presidents decided to pull the plug on the band in December, but the band scheduled a final farewell, a "Last Waltz," if you will, for the end of January. And like that infamous last concert by the Band, this was a special night with many small, classy touches: the Young Fresh Fellows as opening act (even though the teenagers in the crowd didn't seem to understand their sarcasm); bleachers installed on the side of the stage so that the PUSA could play while their families danced next to them; the fact that the show benefited the Chicken Soup Brigade; and the attendance of many of the Northwest's rock royalty who came to bid adieu.
The sold-out crowd also heard some great music, as Ballew, half-guitarist Dave Dederer and drummer Jason Finn played as well as I have ever seen them. They didn't scrimp on the hits, either, playing all 13 songs from their first album ("Lump," "Peaches," "Kitty," all of them!), and much of the second disc, II. There were even new tunes (the glorious "Mobile Home"), a guest appearance by Young Fresh Fellow Kurt Bloch on guitar, and the requisite covers of "Kick Out the Jams" and "Video Killed the Radio Star." By the time they ended with their signature cover, "We're Not Going to Make It," and Ballew uttered the line "Looks like we made it," there wasn't a person in the house who would argue.
Though it was mostly a night of celebration--few bands have done so much with so few strings--the evening also had a melancholy tone, apparent whenever you realized this would be the last chance to hear the band live. As MC Marco Collins noted before the show, "This is kind of a bittersweet moment, but it's also cool to be part of Seattle history." The Presidents' moment in Seattle rock history was all too brief--and to be fair, they were talking about breaking up even before they scored a hit with "Lump"--but they will be remembered for producing some of the catchiest pop songs ever to come out of the Northwest. And they will be remembered for their tremendous live shows, this one included, that always left me feeling happy.
By Charles R. Cross (First appeared in The Rocket magazine, 2/11/98)
I had been on the phone with TicketMaster early the Saturday tickets went on sale, but by the time I got through, the tickets were gone. Fortunately, my company has weekly want ads and I was able to score a ticket. I was elated.
I showed up early to make sure I got a good parking spot. Found my seat, which was about 8 rows from the top, but the Paramount does not have a bad seat. Just in case, I brought my binoculars.
The stage was very simple...The only accessory was a large fabric screen at the back of the stage with purple and orange lights shining on them. On the left side of the stage was a set of bleachers that were placed there for friends and loved ones of PUSA. The instruments were
placed very close to each other and the stage was mostly empty.
Young Fresh Fellows was not as bad as some warmup bands I have seen. They acknowledged the importance of the event by singing a song about PUSA saying, "There's gonna be a reunion". They knew we needed hope. There was also a song in which Dave came from the bleachers and joined
After the break, the tension mounted as representatives from the charity and local radio station came out to thank everyone for coming. Finally they hit the stage...
I had seen them once before at what none of knew would be Soundgarden's last Seattle show, but their set was very short since they were "surprise guests". I was glad they showed up because Soundgarden
really did not do a very good show...but that's another review. This was much better. For one thing the Paramount's acoustics are MUCH BETTER than the Mercer Arena. For another, not only were they were headlining, but this was their last
They "Kicked in" right away with "Kick Out The Jams" and it only got better from there. The highlight for me was when they played "Stranger". This is my favorite PUSA tune and from the crowd, I would
say that it is also well-liked by pretty much everybody because *everyone* was singing along. It almost brought me to tears.
Other highlights included Chris requesting that all the house lights be turned off. The place was pitch black. Then he said something like, "Any smokers out there? Let's see those lighters!" within 2
seconds, the entire place was lit by nothing but lighters, mine included. (Wish I could remember what song they played in darkness).
The encore was like a nuclear explosion when they started playing "Kitty". The entire crowd was on it's feet and going. The people next to me had these cards, one each, with the letters M E O W that
they were waving around.
They finished the show with "We're Not Gonna Make It" and the Chris smashed his Flying V. Which reminds me, I did notice that Dave was actually playing a 6-string (My binoculars are pretty good). This differed from when they played at the Soundgarden show where he only had 3.
The one thing I wish they had done was to take a bow.
When I got home, I reviewed my CDs and noted that they played everything from PUSA and all but Good Evening..., Bug City, LIP and Puffy Little Shoes from II.
This show will be one that I will never forget. I feel fortunate that I was able to attend. The ticket stub now joins other from the likes of The Who, Rush, Queen, Jethro Tull, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd.
Presidents Get Perfect Send-Off
Concert review The Presidents of the United States of America and the Young Fresh Fellows, Saturday at Paramount Theatre, Seattle.
Here's the plan: When the Presidents of the United States of America's new album comes out next month, we bombard the radio stations and MTV with requests for it, we buy as many copies as we can, and then the Presidents will have a huge hit and be forced to
get back together, by popular demand!
There is not enough fun in this old world, not enough parties and not enough dancing. We need bands like this, especially in Seattle, where the tradition of party-animal, wacko rock goes back to the 1950s and legends like the Sonics, the Wailers, the Kingsmen and the
Now the Presidents have officially joined the list of our beloved funtime rock bands of the past, because Saturday's concert was the last farewell for the delightful trio who took their positive energy
around the world. They had a couple of million-selling albums, some hit singles, some popular videos, and toured Europe, Australia and Japan.
After all that, there have got to be some reunion concerts down the road, right guys?
The Paramount's new "ballroom" setting - with the seats somehow neatly folded under the floor - was perfect for the send-off show. The main floor resembled a huge frat party, with a clogged mass of
bouncing bodies moving in double time to the party rhythms. Dancing erupted in the balcony, too.
With friends and family seated on bleachers on stage left, the trio gave the event a local flavor, coming as it did at the end of a perfect day, with all the glories of Puget Sound country gleaming in the warm winter sun. The Presidents have always been uniquely
Northwest, but never seemed more so than Saturday night.
The Presidents pulled out all the stops for the fans, with shaved-head guitarist Chris Ballew, in his trademark shorts, jumping and kicking and joyously singing most of the songs. Slim, curly
haired Dave Dederer, the other guitarist, rolled and tumbled on the floor, leaped off the drum riser, sang some songs, and generally had a blast. Jason Finn, a blur of black curls and flailing arms back on the drum kit, kept the whole thing together.
The audience loved "Peaches" and "Lump," "Seattle Supersonics," "Dune Buggy" and "Boll Weevil," "Naked and Famous" (with guest guitarist Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks), "Kitty" and "Froggie," and
all the other wonderful, nonsensical Presidents' songs. They did one new song, the chugging "Mobile Home," from the upcoming album, "Pure Frosting," due Mar. 10 on Columbia.
The show benefited one of the band's favorite charities, the Chicken Soup Brigade. The Presidents' efforts have raised more than $300,000 for the AIDS charity the past year.
Presidents Of The United States Of America Rock Farewell Address
The Presidents of the United States of America gave a frenzied farewell performance this Saturday night in their hometown of Seattle.
The two-hour show featured the band's bigger hits, "Lump," "Peaches," "Kitty," "Volcano," and "Mach 5," which got the sold-out crowd up out of their chairs -- some kids even took to the aisles during "Peaches," causing a bit of chaos among the ushers. Lesser known album cuts, such as "Dune Buggy," "Boll Weevil", and "Naked and Famous," also managed to get the audience to sing along at considerable volume. Even their anthem to the Seattle Supersonics was a big hit with the hometown fans at the Paramount Theater.
One song, "Mobile Home," was unfamiliar to the audience. The track will be on the Presidents' upcoming album of B-sides and other unreleased material titled "Pure Frosting" which will be released on March 10.
The Presidents also offered plenty of what front man Chris Ballew jokingly called "obligatory" cover tunes, opening the show with their rendition of MC5's "Kick Out the Jams." Other covers chosen for the farewell spotlight: "Let's Lynch the Landlord" by the Dead Kennedys, the Beatles "Baby You're a Rich Man," and, of course, "Video Killed the Radio Star," by the Buggles, which appears on the soundtrack for "the Wedding Singer." The last cover of the night came during their encore: "This song is dedicated to that other band whose Chris quit," Ballew said as the band launched into Soundgarden's "Spoon Man."
The Presidents ended their final show with "We're Not Going to Make It," as an enormous American flag descended on the stage and Ballew smashed up his guitar in the time-honored tradition of rock legends.
The show benefited Seattle's Chicken Soup Brigade, an organization that helps people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Presidents of the United States of America, who sold over four million albums since their debut in 1995, called it quits after Ballew announced he was leaving the band to pursue other musical endeavors and spend more time with his family. He will be releasing an album with the band the Giraffes later this month.
Ballew and bassist Dave Dederer have been playing together since 1985, while drummer Jason Finn joined the band in 1993. Of the band's distinguished monicker, Ballew told MTV News in 1996, "We were desperate for a name, so between songs I just yelled out different names trying to get something to go, like The Electric Pancakes or The Flying Dustbunnies or whatever I could come up with and that was one of 'em" [290k Audio File].
Fellow Seattle-ites the Young Fresh Fellows opened the show, and Dederer joined them on stage for a tune. Guitarist Kurt Bloch, of both the Young Fresh Fellows and the Fastbacks, returned the favor, appearing onstage for one song during the Presidents' set.