Saturday, September 04, 2004

USE, Death Cab for Cutie, Presidents of the USA

Totally Adorable Depression Sandwich
Bumbershoot, Seattle, WA

Teenagers sometimes restore my faith in humanity. On the way into the stadium people planned where they were going to stand, fixed their hair, and figured out their crowd-surfing strategies. The audience for the USE show was soooo excited to be there! They danced! They checked each other out! They reminded me of when I was 17 and sneaking into clubs to see shows. Once I got through the drama of getting through the door with my Chinese friend's older sister's birth certificate, it didn't even MATTER who was playing. I was going to rock out.

USE has become a tight little (well, big) group, and the lead boy on keys was in shiny silver pants and used that Cher mic effect a lot. The crowd sang along! Yay! But when the band stopped to teach the audience the words to a new song, they suddenly seemed like a touring version of a kids' TV show. I thought a giant puppet was going to come out from back stage. Although that would have been pretty cool. Very excellent show. Exiting the stadium after USE you first passed through dry ice cloud, then pot cloud, then curly fry cloud.

The crowd changed slightly for Death Cab for Cutie, in that older people showed up. And by older I mean people in their 20s and 30s. There is RAPT attention directed at the stage, which can sometimes look just like bored indie immobility if you don't look at people's faces. (Oh - remember those studded leather belts worn by punk kids? The preppie kids have co-opted them.) A crowd-surfing factory line ensues: kids surf, get pulled off people by security guys, are plopped outside the fence area, then trot around to be fed back into the crowd. Repeat.

Many people boldly attempt to get up to the VIP seating area where my friends and I are sitting. They get more credit the longer they try to argue with the security gal, particularly if it involves pointing and frantic searching of pockets. I say just tackle one of the unappreciative children of music executives for one of those cards. They do not deserve to be here as much as you do, rabid fan.

After what seems like an ENDLESS set change, the Presidents take over not just the stage but the hearts of the entire stadium. Younger bands should watch these guys and take careful notes on stage presence, audience participation, and rockingness. Mass crowd jumping ensues. We receive instructions on na-na-na's and choruses and arm waving and we do it ALL happily because we are an audience and we enjoy receiving instructions. (Because there are lots of hard-core music fans here and because some are parents, I see babies and toddlers wearing giant earphones or bright earplugs. This makes me very happy.)

The matching outfits of the Presidents make the Hives look like sad followers. (Okay, yes, Devo, I know.) People eat up the material from the new album, and scream like banshees when the band does Kitty and Lump. We are joyous. Even the most jaded rock fan is smiling. The bread of this sandwich is pure candy.

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