Presidents of the United States of America | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Presidents of the United States of America 

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The Presidents of the United States of America are Seattle pop punkers who have much more in common with jokesters like the Young Fresh Fellows than with the city's reigning grunge gods. This is good and bad. On the one hand, the music coming out of the town can be a bit dreary; on the other, it does tend to be relatively substantive. The Presidents, by contrast, embrace the disposable and quotidian with a missionary zeal. Their songs will entrance those who share their enthusiasm for the everyday subjects at hand--I'm a big fan of "Kitty," for example--but irritate those without a burning interest in, say, peaches, a dune buggy, and "the old man on the back porch." To those who say such concepts are not worthy of a self-respecting band these days, the Presidents agree, and on the album's best song, no less. In "We're Not Going to Make It" they sing, "There are a million better bands / With a million better songs." The joke is that the title of the song, at least, has been proved incorrect by a few influential radio programmers who've put the Presidents into the top 20, though it's not clear at this point whether ultimately the joke will be on the band. Only one piece of the puzzle doesn't fit: an astonishingly snotty take on the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams." The Presidents manage to approximate this classic's energy even while utterly ridiculing the song, the MC5, and its fans, not least by changing the words to play into their own name ("Well, I've been elected to rock your asses till midnight"). It's designed to offend, and nothing else. Guess that's why they call it punk rock. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Karen Mason.

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