Nirvana songs played at the Gothic Theatre before the opener, Toronto-based July Talk. Singer Leah Fay kept nuzzling her head against her bandmates and yelling about pizza. "It's hard to open for the Presidents of the United States of America" she said as she tried to coax fans to come on down into the pit area. They were hesitant. They were more excited about the Presidents of the United States of America.
Jay Coyle, who was working the merchandise booth, told me that the Presidents attract about as many die-hard fans as '90s tourists. "The crowd is pretty split down the middle. We have the die-hard fans who know everything about every album and tell us, 'Oh we haven't seen you in so long,'" he said. "Others remember us but they don't really know who we are. [The Presidents of the United States of America] were all over MTV from 1995 until 1997."
Kim Tompkins was there with two of her children, who are now adults. Her son was wearing a Juggalo hatchet man necklace. "We used to cruise around in my car listening to it, and they loved it because of all the animals in the songs," said Tompkins.
On stage, the Presidents of the United States of America were dripping with positive energy and playful lyrics. Chris Ballew proved to be just as animated and charismatic as he was in all his '90s music videos. The second song of the night was "Kitty," which, lyrically, is mostly made up of "meow." In a break after it, singer Chris Ballew joked, "We only stop between shows because we are buffering." They played a nice mix of old and new, intertwining classics like "Lump" with lot of songs from their new album, including "Poor Little Me." A group of teens seemed to be enjoying the show. Sixteen-year-old Kyle Watts was there with a classmate and a friend in his freshman year of college. He was also there with his parents, who introduced him to the Presidents' music. "I've been listening to this band for as long as I can remember," he said. Jennifer Jesse, another fan, who was wearing a tee, said she been following them since their 1994 self titled album. "I love their lyrics. I love the energy they bring."
Chris Ballew thanked the audience for not seeing Jack White, who was playing Red Rocks the same night. Their final song was "Peaches," and guitarist Andrew McKeag took a bite out of a peach and threw it into the audience. After the crowd cheered "USA" the band came back and Chris joked, "I'm gonna play some White Stripes songs." Some people in the audience booed, and they played a cover of "Video Killed the Radio Star" instead.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.