PUSAFest 2014 – Concert Review

The Presidents of the United States of America w/ Old Light & You Scream I Scream
Crystal Ballroom
02.14.2014

IMG_5380How could I be an avid Portland concert goer and skip out on the annual PUSAFest? I couldn’t! This years PUSAFest brings Seattle band, and true rock performers, Presidents of the United States of America to the Crystal Ballroom, along with bands You Scream, I Scream and Old Light for a true night to remember. And it’s hard to forget with your ears ringing for two days after. Not a bad thing at all.

At first I was a little worried that PUSAFest wasn’t going to be a big hit, or that I was at the wrong place. I got to Ringler’s about 3 hours ahead of doors (as usual for a band of their caliber) to find that nobody else was there. First one, cool. That’s what I aim for. I began to be worried though when a good hour and a half before doors, I was… still the only one there.

I had forgot my advantage as a student, especially having all of Friday off. Soon enough, people began to poor in after a long day at work. Ringler’s was filled with a mainly 30’s aged crowd, which made sense since that would be the age of 90’s college students now. I was a little worried I was going to be the only born-in-the-90’s PUSA fan there, but my worries were addressed once we were inside. A healthy amount of college students manifested front row with me in the ballroom.

The night started out with opening band, You Scream, I Scream, hailing from the east coast of the USA. The first thing noted was the appearance of the keyboardist. It looked as though Mr. Bean had taken up being in a band, and decided to define himself my donning a disco ball bicycle helmet. I really feel he had the most talent, and was probably the most fun to watch. His keyboard and synth work was incredible, and with the disco helmet, he became the shining star of the ballroom with his reflected dots decorating the walls.

After this disco rocking bands set (which included a song about Spanish girl dating site, written by Audrey the drummer), we progressed into a more pure rocker vibe with local band, Old Light. These guys got the rock down music wise, though weren’t as energetic as the first opener. The highlight of this band was the bass. Holy Jesus, it was the most powerful bass and most amazing instrument I’ve ever laid eyes on. Props to that bass! Unfortunately, lead singer Garth was having guitar troubles, but it couldn’t have come at a better time than during a song where the lyric was “It’s gone.” Garth ingenuously riffed with the replacement of words, singing, “It’s gone. My guitar is gone.” Shout out to you for carrying on the right way!

Then, the almighty power of The Presidents of the United States of America. If these guys aren’t true, seasoned, professional rockers, I don’t know what it. PUSA puts on a show, and it’s a damn good one! Let me give you the run down: jumping, joking, holding the mic stand upside down, setting the mic on the ground and crouching down to sing into it, more jumping, crowd members touching (and tying) shoes, powerful guitar riffs and drum solos, more jokes, perfect stage banter, surprising the audience by introducing their #1 hit song, Lump, as a “song we just wrote this afternoon”. The list goes on. You really just had to be there. If you haven’t gone to PUSAFest, or you’ve been before, go next year!

The highlight of the night is an easy choice. Right before going into the new song, She’s a Nurse, off their new record, Chris invited a specific audience member to come onto the stage and say a few words. This guy gets up there, and says, “Well I’m here with my girlfriend.” I knew it was coming. The girlfriend comes up on stage, and in perfect Valentine’s Day fashion, pops the question, on stage at the Crystal Ballroom, during PUSAFest. It was a big yes!

Love was in the air that Valentine’s Day. And even though I wasn’t with my love, as Yume put it, I was doing what I love. That’s what’s important.

PUSA’s new album, Kudos To You!, will be available to you on February 18th! You can preorder it on Amazon.com here! And like I said, it is very highly recommend you attend PUSAFest in the future. It’s not something you’ll regret!

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