The Replacements - Live at Boston Calling Festival (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Replacements

Live at Boston Calling Festival (2014)

live show

What is there to say about the Replacements, the greatest cult band of the 20th century (ok, they landed on a major label, but had almost no success), and their reunion that hasn't already been said, and especially by Patrick Stickle's superb "Spin" writeup of their Riot Fest concert? Well, I'll try to sum it up by saying that it's beautiful —— the Replacements were too rough and messed up to ever get any mainstream success except for college rock play; the biggest they ever got was opening for Tom Petty and he ripped off one of their songs, for fuck's sake! So to see hundreds of people (a decent mix of older and younger kids like me) screaming their lyrics and clearly overjoyed to see them must be a huge boon every night. Tommy even got a little weepy, although it was hard to tell if he was just kidding around. Even if Bob Stinson never got to see it, they finally made it...though of course they weren't headlining, only second to Nas + the Roots. Even when they make it, they're not number one, but who'd want them to be?

Still, it was a high energy, riotous 21—song set by Paul Westerberg and the gang, with Tommy and guest guitarist Dave Minehan of old Boston band The Neighborhoods (props to the Mats for picking a local musician to play with them, and Minehan acquitted himself very nicely) in blaring, vomit—inducing pinstripe suits. Paul and Tommy are all thirty years older than that '84 cover on the rooftops, but in their wigged out haircuts and energy, you can see the cut—up, weirdo kids they were as they bash out the "hits." They wisely picked the most crowd—pleasing, uptempo songs, except for the country honky tonk "Waitress In The Sky" and the downbeat, still heart—stopping "Androgynous."

Paul forgot every other lyric, tons of jokes flew back and forth, they played "I Want You Back" for about a minute half decently then stopped giving a shit, "Bastards of Young" roared to was what I wanted and needed from a Replacements show. The only complaint I'd have is that the drummer Josh Freese was set up to sound like every other drummer at a rock festival, but that isn't his fault. It was a great night. A special note to close out on: Paul forgot every other lyric, but with "Androgynous," he forgot the final verse, that cathartic burst of tragedy and at least half of us picked it up for him, singing it as loud as we could. "Glad you guys were here," he said, surprised that we knew every word. He shouldn't have been, though.


— Other bands did play the festival, don't get me wrong. Spoon was not surprisingly great live and are still one of the most surprisingly tough rock bands out there. Lake Street Dive are a local "soul" band but were way too perfectionist and boring. The 1975 were godawful and the War On Drugs was fun. I missed Nas and the Roots, but count your blessings, I guess.

— Best Mats stage banter: "Is that weed? I smell weed. Hippies! Fucking hippies!" 'Professionals tune up on stage, right?"