Mike Lyon's abridged account of the PUSA "World Tour"
|Myself, the groovy Mike P and the fabulous Mindy headed out for Jupiter Studios, the secret location, at about 12:25. We passed Jason's restaurant, The Asteroid Cafe, along the way, which was cool! When we got there, we met up with Zoe and the Musicblitz folks along with the other folks waiting to get into the show. Everyone was nervous excited, and I talked to a couple of random folks standing around.
Then a woman with a microphone and a guy with a camera came out and asked if "Mike" was here. I said yeah, that was me, and the woman came up and introduced herself. She was a reporter for the NBC news affiliate, and she'd just been inside interviewing Chris. She said that Chris had been asking after me, saying that I had come all the way from Boston to see the show (it's actually Ohio, but hey...)! She asked if she could interview me for the evening news! So I stood in front of the camera and told them how I'd manage to swing the trip across the entire country to see The Presidents. They asked me how I'd gotten to know Chris, if I was looking forward to meeting him, why I loved The Presidents so much, etc... It was all pretty overwhelming, to say the least! The broadcast was on the 6 o'clock news in Seattle, although I missed it. Mindy taped it, though, and hopefully I'll have a copy coming my way soon! It'd be pretty cool if I was on TV, to be sure.
Then the doors opened up and we headed inside. Jupiter studios was exactly as it looked from the video and stills we've all seen, except for the new addition of a little stage area all set up for the boys ^_^ A shiny silver sheet draped two corners of the room to form their backdrop, with 2 little banners saying "World Tour" and "The Presidents of the United States of America" on them. If you were standing front and center, the layout was as follows: directly in front of you - Jason's kit. To the right - Chris' mic stand, and to the right of that, Chris' piano. To the left of the kit was Dave's mic, followed by Duff's bass and rig. The silver sheets were covered in little white poodles, and atop Jason's kick was a single black poodle! (I tried to snag this "rare variant" after the show, but someone beat me to it!)
The spectator area was super tiny, as well; it's not a big studio. The majority of the room on the floor was taken up by a huge camera rig that hovered above the crowd. There were 3 additional cameramen dispersed across the floor and stage, plus the camera guy that had interviewed me before. A kid who looked to be about 16 was taking pictures before, during and after the show for some local paper. Outside a sign was posted that clearly stated "No cameras allowed", so alas, I can't give you any advanced snaps of the show!
To the left of all this was the sound booth, and through the glass you could see Chris, Dave, Jason and Duff goofing around with their wives, parents, and producer Martin. Everybody looked very relaxed and excited to play! We stood around for about 20 minutes, and, as such things always happen at the worst possible time, I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. But there was no such thing in Jupiter Studios! Tempting fate, I finally booked next door to the "Durn Good Grocery" and begged to use their employee washroom. After MUCH coercion, the guy finally agreed, and I sped to the back. I tore out of the grocery and next door, and the boys were JUST taking the stage as I came in! (At this point, I almost had a coronary; I was *that* close to missing the beginning of the best time of my life!)
Chris was wearing a white button-down shirt with green triangles on it and black slacks. Dave and Jason both wore black t-shirts and jeans. Duff wore a real rock star outfit; leather vest exposing his tattooed arms, funky pants, etc. Both he and Jason wore a huge gold medallion that had a money symbol on it; great shit! Chris played his red Gibson SG guitar, and Dave played, as per usual, a series of Fender Telecasters. He broke a string playing "Tiger Bomb", and hence the guitar change. I can't for the life of me recall the colors, but I believe the replacement guitar was a blonde wood finish. Duff played a white Fender Precision Bass from the Standard series, as far as I could tell. It had something written on it, but I missed it... Duff played bass the whole show (and very well, I might add), while Chris and Dave flip-flopped between lead and rhythm guitar, with Chris moving to the piano for 2 numbers: Tiger Bomb and Death Star.
Anyway, the boys get out on stage, tune up, and then Chris asked: "Is Mike Lyon in the crowd?"! I waved and said something, and Chris and Dave talked about how I'd come all this way to see the show and meet the boys. Immediately, one of the cameramen was right up near me, filming my obviously ecstatic reaction! Then Chris introduced "Nuthin But Love", and off they went! The cameraman stuck with me as I bounced around and sang along. As a matter of fact, this camera guy stuck on me for like a 1/3rd of the show! Every time I turned around, this guy was filming me... Appearantly, being a rabid super-fan has its advantages! We'll just see how much of that footage ends up on the webcast (The safe bet - Mike is on-camera for 2 seconds, singing along and looking like a happy ass ^_^)
They warned us before the show that it might not sound like a "Real Rok Concert" because it was all being recorded professionally on recording equipment through recording speakers, unlike being at an actual venue. Well, if this wasn't a rok concert, then I'm not a Presidents fan! The farthest you could possibly get from the boys was like 6 feet, and the sound was loud and full! Now of course, all songs take on a new edge played live, and all I can say is, I like all of these songs even better after the show. There were some songs on the album that I wasn't too hot on before I saw the show, particularly Dave's numbers, but he kicked out the jams so fine live that I garnered an entirely new appreciation of his vocal talents.
Nuthin But Love
Meanwhile Back in the City
Tiger Bomb, Take II
Last Girl on Earth
Some of the songs were changed for the live show, and no complaints from me! Tiger Bomb has a soothing piano riff alone in place of the album outro, but then they TORE into a loud and noisy outro that is beyond reproach! I'm *Glad* they did that number twice! The whole show was just euphoric, a real triumph. They are so TOTALLY tight live, even after 3 years, that it's scary. Really, really scary. I won't say much more about the production, because you're gonna see the webcast, RIGHT?!
Of note, though: during the switching of tape reels, between Superstar and Death Star, the boys whipped out a wicked little improv that was a real joy to behold! It won't be on the webcast, but Chris said they might release a CD of the show and that hopefully that would make it! Also, Chris and Dave mentioned me a couple more times, which made me glow. At one point, Dave asked Chris if he'd ever met me in person before. Chris turned to me and said: "No, but I've talked to the guy a million times over the internet. ...You're not here to kill me, right?" Too damn funny!
The show ended with a HUGE bang on Headin Out, definitely one of the highlights. I yelled "encore!" once, but the end was unfortunately the end. With the webcast and all, I don't think The Presidents can play songs still owned by Sony for a Musicblitz release, so the old faves were out. No complaints, though. Still, maybe they could've played "Jennifer's Jacket", huh? ^_^
After the show, the poodles were cut down and thrown to the audience. Posters signed by the boys were also distributed, as well as little grab bags THAT I MISSED! Granted, there was nothing "Presidents-specific" in the bags, just party favors really, but still, I am bummed. I also wanted to take down those banners at the back of the stage to take home with me, but I figured that might be a little too conspicuous (heh).
But meeting Chris, Dave and Jason face to face was the REAL DEAL. I stepped outside with Chris, and was instantaneously muted. Didn't know what to say, after all those internet conversations! As he was deluged by a rain of the fans I slipped back inside to get Jason to sign my copies of Froggystyle and the Popllama Presidents debut. He was SO cool, and we chatted for 5 or 10 minutes about everything under the sky! I mentioned that I'd been hunting to do an interview with him for 4 years now, and he immediately gave me his email; too cool. So coming soon, folks, the definitive Jason Finn interview! (heheheh, always the salesman!)
Around this time a guy who writes for The Rocket who was attending the show came up to me and handed me Chris' setlist for the gig! He said "I grabbed this, but hey, if you came all the way from the East Coast for this, you DESERVE it!" Once again, it apparently pays to be nuts. Killer fellow, and a big PUSA fan himself! I imagine there'll be an article in The Rocket soon about the show, so pick up the paper or get on their website!
Then it was back outside to chat with Chris for a loooong time and briefly interact with Dave. Dave was busy with some friends and his wife D'Arcy, but stopped by to thank me for making the pilgrimage. He and Chris signed the above mentioned items, stopping at the Froggystyle tape. "Wow, too cool!", Dave exclaimed, adding that he didn't actually own a copy himself! "This is the first one, right?", he asked Chris. Chris said "I have one of the green ones, but that's it". At this point, I was like "What's going on?!" After some talking back and forth to get the sequence right, they told me that there are actually ***3*** version of the Froggystyle tape! All of them have the same songs, but with different packaging! I think Dave said that each pressing was 100 tapes (holy shit). The first was yellow, with the froggy in the middle of the money strip. But Chris said he drew a DIFFERENT cover for the each of the other 2 reprints, as well! The second one was apparently orange, and the third one green! Just when I thought my quest for the most complete PUSA collection on the planet Earth was nearing its conclusion ^_^
I also got Chris to sign my Giraffes records, and then we talked in earnest about the future of the Giraffes, playing with Dave and Jason again, his kids, the weather, etc etc. I asked if Augie would sign my copy of "The Days Are Filled With Years", so Chris went over and held his hand while he wrote out his name, after which Augie proceeded to scribble out a thoroughly abstract truck! Augie's first autograph! I only caught a brief glimpse of Josie when I ducked back in, but she looks like a little angel. While I was inside gathering my stuff I ran into Duff, who was with his beautiful wife and daughter. I shook his hand and told him that I thought the show was great! He was the most soft-spoken guy you could imagine, especially for someone who played in "Guns n' Fuckin' Roses!".
Back outside, I got pictures with all the gentlemen as well as with Chris alone. Chris also checked out my Caspar tattoo a couple of times, and we talked tattoos for a while. He showed me his 3, and I took some pictures because they were pretty cool! He played around with Augie, we chatted some more, and then it was time to split. We had hoped to get a beer together, but Chris was sick and hyped up on cold medicine, and I was jetlagged, worn out, and running on pure adrenaline. We exchanged numbers, but I knew I wouldn't be seeing him again for a while. A wave and a shake of the hand, and Mike P, Mindy and I headed off to the car.
I'm still on cloud nine, to say the least. It was totally worth it, every second, and beyond the show I got to check out a truly beautiful city and meet some of the coolest cats ever (Mike, Mindy, Kurt - You rok. There are no two ways about it!). The idea is to go back in January when I have the month off, catch a Giraffes show, hang with the folks at RC's (great bar/second home of the aforementioned cats), and hopefully treat Chris to some dinner and have a conversation that doesn't involve The Presidents!
Lastly, I went to the Experience Music Project in my spare time, and checked out the surprisingly large section they have dedicated to The Presidents! Although photography is strictly prohibited inside, I snuck some snaps of Chris and Dave's broken guitars from the "Final Show", Chris' old gold boots and gold amp, and the handwritten lyrics to "Lump"! The EMP is a great place, I highly recommend it... On a final note, a vast number of pictures of all the aforementioned stuff will be available soon! I'm writing up a big travelogue for my personal site, "fourteen seconds", that will be linked through
Chris.Ballew.net as soon as I finish it! So this is not the full treatment; far from it! In the meantime, though, I hope it tides you over till the webcast airs!
take me back to the Chris.Ballew.net Home page!