Presidents of the USA at the Trocadero or The Old Man in the Mosh Pit
Back in late 1995, I was just 15 years old, Not really sure about my direction. My direction in life, in music, in anything. I knew one thing for sure: I was weird. Not strange, not exotic, just plain weird. And while other bands popular at the time were writing song about their terrible high school experience, or how no one understood them, a shining beacon of hope emerged from the mire of Seattle grunge rock. The Presidents of The United States of America, hit the scene! They were wacky, they played a two string guitar they wrote songs about things that didn’t even make much sense to me at 15. I loved it. And that Christmas I received my 4th CD…. Self-Titled By PUSA. Finally it was ok to not like everything my classmates were listening to. I hopped on the grunge wagon well after Kurt Cobain passed away. Before this I was listening to Frank Zappa and old Dr. Demento Albums. That album was one of the most influential buys I made in my entire life. I listen to it non-stop. Songs like the MC5 cover Kick out the Jams and We’re not gonna Make It got me thinking about a faster, harder, more emotional kind of music before I thought punk rock was more than just a bunch of guys that coloured their hair funny and fought the Ninja Turtles.
So imagine My excitement when some of my friends told me they were still playing music together! There was a show at the Trocadero in Philly coming up! Did I want them to get me a ticket? HECK YES! I busted out the records and I started jamming out to Cleveland Rocks and Mixed-Up SOB and I listened to every song they put out. I was 15 again for a little bit.
So it came the day of the concert, Last Friday, I woke up early went to work restocked the bar talked to my boss about how excited I was and I left and got on the train. I must have seemed like a teenager to everyone I talked to. “I’m going to see the Presidents!” I’d say, beaming like my homecoming date had just said yes. “Yes they’re still around. They have like six albums!
I arrived in Philly a bit early. Hungry for some mall food. The train (Septa’s R7) drops you off right at the Gallery Mall on 8th and Market in Philly a mere block from the Trocadero! I needed food. And I came to a crossroads in my journey. The Choice between mall sushi and Chik-Fil-A was not a hard one, in truth, but I felt the need for some form of drama. And there you have it, pitted between my love for sushi and my fear of the low quality crap that malls churn out. Lucky for me there was a shining light of fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. After my meal, I walked over to the Trocadero. 6:30pm I was an hour and a half early and My friends weren’t leaving south Jersey until about 8pm. I just waited in line…I was the first.
As the time wore on, I wondered if I might be able to get an interview, and what I would say. How would I not lose my cool? As these questions whizzed around my head like X-wings in the Battle of Yavin. Chris Ballew walked out of the Troc (presumably to hit up a Wawa) I recognized him immediately! Knowing that If He left via the main entrance I focused on his return in the same fashion. The line grew. When he came back I gave a wave and a “hey, man!”. He turned smiled back and said, “Hey,man! First in line! Good Job!” I don’t think I was able to muster up much of a response, a goofy smile, perhaps a thumbs up. Somewhere under all this cool and and past the smooth dance moves I’m still that awkward 15 year old kid.
So we get inside the venue and the Presidents start-up. (Sadly, they didn’t let me take in my gear and the band’s management deal with all the interviews.) I think they started with Kitty. And I’m in the thick of a pogo rhomp. everyone was jumping up and down acting like fools. These are my kinda people! As the songs change the dancing goes from moshing, slow dancing, to a good old fashion circle pit. I could go on about the entire show song by song but thats really not much fun. Suffice it to say it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. After the show I went to Denny’s. I had some Country Fried Steak, Got to my dad’s house in south Jersey, and slept. I did however get a little video with the cell phone. Sound’s a little harsh but, you might get a kick out of the stage dive!