Ah, springtime: when a young music nerd’s thoughts turn to saying, “I know more than you, and I liked that band before they caught on to the mainstream.” I’m ashamed to admit it, but I fall victim to this dread disease; I try very hard to be nice and unassuming, but every now and then, the “cooler-than-thou” feeling deep within me rears its ugly head.
In May, 1994, I was at the much-beloved Crocodile Café in Seattle, waiting to see great Georgia songwriter Kevn Kinney. I was unfamiliar with the opening act, a local Seattle band called, auspiciously, The Presidents of the United States of America. Since I was in the front of the crowd pushed up against the stage, I could see that they had a small drum kit and — wait, did the bass player have only two strings on his guitar? And look, the guitarist with the Fender Telecaster had only the middle three strings of his guitar. Pretty interesting. This power-trio then proceeded to explode into a crazy set — loud, silly, energetic songs that had the 100 or so people in the audience jumping up and down with pure joy. Those minimally-stringed guitars packed a real Ramones-like wallop. “Holy cow,” I thought. “These guys are really great.”