The Replacements at Riot Fest Chicago, 9/15/13

Categories: Last Night
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Photo by Erik Hess
The Replacements
Riot Fest, Humboldt Park, Chicago
Sunday, September 15, 2013


You can't turn back the clock. This was especially true when Paul Westerberg ripped the thing out of its socket, twirled it by the cord, and chucked the extinguished red LED readout like a sack of garbage. Time hasn't stood still since the Replacements headed into hiatus/who-the-fuck-knows-if-they'll-ever-play-again mode 22 years ago in Chicago, but it sure felt like it during a long, soggy Sunday of emo bands that came before them at the second 2013 running of Riot Fest. 

If the first of the three planned Replacements reunion shows was a triumphant dress rehearsal in Canada, number two proved to display even more raw power -- even without Iggy Pop to set the table for them.

See Also: Slideshow: The Replacements at Riot Fest Chicago
*The Replacements reunite at Riot Fest Toronto, 8/25/13


Playing as well or better than one did a quarter of a century back is a daunting task, but zooming past the precedent set three weeks ago was well within the Replacements' reach. It began "At 90 miles an hour, slidin' on grease," as the band tore through "Takin' a Ride" and four other lean punk cuts -- including a "Buck Hill" interlude -- in their first 10 minutes onstage. "Give us a second," implored bassist Tommy Stinson after bouncing around his side of the stage like a top during "Hangin' Downtown." "We lost a knob."
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Photos by Erik Hess
Last night's Replacements were a tighter unit. Drummer Josh Freese could spend even more time grinning as he bashed out celebratory fills ahead, behind, and often deep in the songs' cosmic innards. Equally impressed by his surroundings, Stinson's thundrous bass backing, manical grins, and one-liners held the night together. A stronger and finely tuned sound system -- which still couldn't save the stage's previous inhabitants, AFI, from their tendencies for dreck -- greatly benefited lead guitarist David Minehan. Mostly, this meant that his backup harmonies and quick lead parts coated Westerberg's lyrics like maple syrup. However, it got the best of him during "Swingin' Party." "Can we lose that Cure thing?" Westerberg teased, and mockingly examined Minehan's pedals. "We can get Bob Mould up here in an instant, buddy."

P-dubs himself seemed more comfortable than at his Toronto reemergence, but didn't look that comfortable. After the disorienting "Swingin' Party," he crankily reprimanded himself, "Boo! Tarzan stink." At moments, grandpaboy Westerberg was undeniably clawing at his own skin -- even when he was nailing the vocals of "Bastards of Young," "Alex Chilton," and so many others -- he was generous enough to pull us up onto the shrink's couch next to him. "I've been having the time of my life," he said sarcastically before launching into a polished "Merry Go Round." (The way he spit out his gum with exaggerated disgust during that one was priceless.)

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1 comments
banderson8
banderson8

Thank you so much for photos and lovely article.

Was there. Exhilerating.  Stunning.  Raw, tight, with high craft.  These are f'ing great musicians having fun.  Most interesting to this longtime fan:  large numbers of 20 year olds with their faces absolutely full of pleasure and singing EVERY SINGLE WORD to every single song.    Hard to explain the kinship and pleasure this brought to me and those around me.  Drove all night to get home for work the next day... tired but smiles on our faces. 

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