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The Presidents of the United States of America: Fri, March 8 @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane

Words by Scenewave Oz - Published on April 3, 2013

Iconic 90’s pop rock legends the Presidents of the United States of America (Pot USA) played a packed out Hi-fi filled to the brim with adoring fans on Friday night. Performing their 5 time platinum self-titled debut album in its entirety as well as a catalogue of hits, they put beaming smiles on faces and left everyone with a hoarse voice.

Pot USA are one of those bands (for me at least but I’m sure many can relate) that bring countless memories. They take me back to junior school days running round in the yard, with their sounds blasting from my older brother’s room. Their songs were so approachable and listenable; their album is somewhat symbolic to my younger years, scrounging off my brother’s music collection. They are part of the reason that sparked my interest in music and lump was one of the first songs that I ever jammed on in a band. I couldn’t wait to see them.

They played a massive set – 30 songs long and were at full speed right from the get go, opening with a mixture of later releases and a few new songs. Their sound just oozed the 90’s. Classic pop guitar riffs and power chords that Pot USA are renowned and loved for. But as good as these were, the crowd grew anxious. It was pretty clear that everyone was there for the hits and at the finish of Mach 5 (about 20 minutes in to the set) Chris Ballew casually says in to the mic, “Oh, here’s something we haven’t done yet” before breaking in to the album opener “Kitty”. The crowd erupted as the chords rolled out of Ballew’s basitar and Andrew McKeag’s guitbass and from here on the audience sung back every word of every song for the rest of the night.

Everyone was getting right behind it and so was the band. Their stage presence was electric and they engaged with the crowd all night. They played the album through and left the stage with the audience still roaring. Returning for an encore they squeezed in a few covers including AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and their hit Buggles cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star” before polishing off the night with a “Kick Out the Jams” reprise and some more new releases.

The Hifi had turned in to a sweat pit and everyone shuffled their way towards fresh air still ecstatic and on a high after the performance. They played to what everyone expected and ticked all the right boxes but I felt that you could see how much they really wanted to showcase their more recent material and what they’ve done in the past years.  In a sense it seemed liked they were going through the motions playing their self-titled; but this isn’t to take away from that they very much did it justice. They just seemed a little more excited playing their new songs. You can’t really blame them for this; they would have performed the album through thousands of times. Nonetheless, they were still incredible and a great live act by a much loved band playing their classics to adoring fans spanning generations.

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