Concert Review: The Presidents of the United States of America at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, KS 6/19/14

Fans gathered at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kansas for the Sunset Music Fest feauring The Presidents of the United States of America. Most people in attendance had heard the song "Peaches."

Fans gathered at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kansas for the Sunset Music Fest feauring The Presidents of the United States of America. Most people in attendance had heard the song “Peaches.”

The Presidents of the United States of America (or PUSA for my typing fingers’ sake) don’t tour much anymore and hopes for a show in the Kansas City / Omaha areas seemed bleak. The band booked a FREE show in Leawood, Kansas at a mall-type of area for the Sunset Music Fest with the help of 90.9 The Bridge. They are a great family friendly band so this made perfect sense. The narrow alleyway where the band would set up was maybe a hundred feet wide but stretched a long way in-between stores on each side providing a strange area to see a show. The alleyway wasn’t a whole lot wider than the stage but set up their lawn chair all the way back to a distant parking lot on the other side of the alley from the stage.

PUSA would be preceded by local all american heroes Not A Planet. The Westport natives were impressive and had no problem keeping the attention of the crowd. With some bluesy boogey like on “My Train Is Coming” and a crunchy guitar coating nearly every song, their sound is tailor made for what exemplifies indie rock. Their time on stage was short and the weather was really hot but the impending rain held off, as it would for the headliners.

Not A Planet plays live in Leawood, Kansas for the Sunset Music Fest.

Not A Planet plays live in Leawood, Kansas for the Sunset Music Fest.

 

PUSA came on stage before 8:30 (it was a family event after all) and would have a lot of fun during their roughly hour and a half set. The group is more than a one-hit wonder but most people only know them for their great self-titled first album, so you could call them a one-album wonder I suppose, but they are much better than that. They would hit this record hard right out of the gate and end up playing 9 of the 13 tracks off of it. They would sprinkle in favorites from most of their other albums since that 1995 landmark including their new album Kudos To YouKudos got plenty of love with 6 songs getting performed off of it including the two best songs off of it, “Poor Little Me” and “She’s A Nurse.” The grinding guitar of “Mach 5” was surprising while the exclusion of “Jennifer’s Jacket” was disappointing, but overall the set was a huge amount of fun and was greeted with lots of fanfare.

Lead signer Chris Ballew would be his energetic self, jumping around stage and even doing one of the band’s biggest hits, “Dune Buggy”, while standing on top of a chair. Newish guitbass player Andrew McKeag would match Ballew’s bassitar while Jason Finn would play the conventionally named drums. The irresistible pop of “Some Postman” was great and the Mark Sandman (of Morphine) tribute was great. The other hits like “Lump” “Volcano” and of course “Peaches” delighted the crowd of casual music fans. “We’re Not Going To Make It” would close out their main set and the encore would be their great cover of The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star” and they would close out the way they started the set, with their emphatic version of MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams.”

The Presidents of the United States of America perfroming live at the Sunset Music Fest at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kansas. Lead singer Chris Ballew (left) performs their song "Dune Buggy" from on top of a chair simply because he is a rock star and can do that sort of thing.

The Presidents of the United States of America perfroming live at the Sunset Music Fest at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kansas. Lead singer Chris Ballew (left) performs their song “Dune Buggy” from on top of a chair simply because he is a rock star and can do that sort of thing.

The Presidents of the United States of America at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, KS 6/19/14 setlist:

  • Kick Out The Jams (MC5 cover)
  • Kitty
  • Volcano
  • Poor Little Me
  • Some Postman
  • Boll Weevil
  • She’s A Nurse
  • Back Porch
  • Lump
  • Crown Victoria
  • Tiki God
  • Dune Buggy
  • Finger Monster
  • Feather Pluckin’
  • Good Morning Tycoon
  • Ghosts Are Everywhere
  • Bug City
  • Slow Slow Fly
  • Mach 5
  • Kansas City (Wilbert Harrison cover)
  • Peaches
  • We’re Not Going To Make It
  • encore break
  • Video Killed The Radio Star (The Buggles cover)
  • Kick Out The Jams (reprise) (MC5 cover)
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