In March of 2000, I went to a freaking amazing show at the Roseland featuring The Presidents of the USA and Sir-Mix-A-Lot, touring together as sUBsET. As Mix explained in an article, “We do music because we love it. Subset is four men who have seen the evils of the record business and were able to escape, asses still intact. Four men who left on their own terms. Four men re-born, true to the grassroots, and freed from the shackles of pop music.”

That night I picked up a sweet T-shirt and went home humming their catchy tunes. In addition to singing some songs they were individually known for, they had a collection of all new songs. Really fun and very different from their usual stuff. They had promised a CD coming out soon, but one never materialized and the project faded into obscurity. I’ve consoled myself with the few MP3’s in existence, including a few from live shows.

MIX: “Check it out. I noticed a lot of people going, what the fuck did Mix do?”

BALLEW: “What the fuck did the Presidents do?”

MIX: “My question is this… how the fuck can I live in Seattle and not do this?”

I still wear my concert-T pretty frequently, especially since the word SUBSET in large letters on a t-shirt is really amusing to people who work with databases. In all the time I’ve worn it, no one has ever acknowledged that they knew what my shirt meant. Until tonight. Aaron and I were doing the self-checkout at Freddy’s when an employee came up and said, “Wow! You know who sUBsET is? I didn’t make it to the show but my friend did and he said it was totally through the roof!!! I can just imagine… Chris Ballew and Mix! Did they ever release an album?” After I told him there was no album but MP3’s could be found by the enterprising individual, he proceeded to talk my ear off about sUBsET and a few other bands who do wild innovative stuff. I tried to help Aaron with the groceries and give this guy the indication that I had shopping to finish, but he didn’t get the hint. Aaron said the guy looked bummed when he noticed that I had a boyfriend, but I missed that hint. Food bagged and heading out the door, the guy persisted, even after I tossed a “Nice talking with you. Byeeeeee!” over my shoulder. “Oh, no worries. I was heading out to my car myself,” as he follows us out towards the parking lot, yammering about bands I will probably never check out. Once we finally parted ways, I wanted to chuckle and ask, “What the hell was that?” but I figured he was probably still within earshot.

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