RiotFest Diaries: I Saw The Replacements & am Still Trying to Find the Words

Where do I even begin?

So I saw The Replacements, my very favorite band on Earth, and I didn’t die. At least not for very long. During “Androgynous” when Paul Westerberg asked “Hey did you see Joan Jett the other night?” My heart stopped. My soul shot from my body and exploded over the muddy field in Chicago, and if a doctor had been nearby I’m sure I would have been declared clinically dead. Cause of death: Joy.

But I came back to life, and I’m pretty happy about that because they played my song right after “Androgynous” and if I had died before seeing The Replacements do ” I Will Dare” some sort of plagues would have been visited upon the Earth.

If you want an actual review, go read Andrea Swensson’s at The Current (and if you want to see for yourself I put all the videos from Sunday in setlist order over at Paul Westerberg.net). I don’t think I’m capable of putting any sort of coherent words around the concert. It was fun. It was amazing. It was better than I expected and exactly what I wanted. They sounded good, like they were having fun and not like they were there to collect a check (which was my unvoiced fear).

About three songs in, it hit me that I was seeing The Replacements and I bawled my fucking head off. It was a moment I didn’t think would ever happen, and when it finally did I was so overcome with emotion that it had to pour out of my eyes. I mean what else can you do when you finally see the band whose music is woven into your very being, the music and the words of their songs as much a part of you as your marrow and DNA?

There’s nothing you can do. It’s like the holy spirit of rock & roll takes you over and you’re dancing and singing and smiling and crying all at the same time and it doesn’t even feel like anything because you have ceased to exist and instead have become one with the music and the people and the mud and dark Chicago sky and the glory of it all.

My state of euphoric bliss was pretty apparent. I know this because a woman who grew up in Chaska and celebrated her 46th birthday on Sunday tapped me on the arm after “I Will Dare” and shouted up to me,”You look so happy!” I smiled down at her, “I AM!” I’m pretty sure my giant, sweaty, smiling potato head was glowing like a beacon.

Now you know why I can’t play poker.

It feels as though I’ve gone through some sort of religious experience, like I’ve witnessed something so grand and epic that mere words cannot convey what it was like. Perhaps the people who saw Moses part the Red Sea felt kind of like this. (That’s the only sort of religious thing I could think of, didn’t most of those burning bush type things happen to dudes when nobody else was around?)

My friend Malmsy called me today since we didn’t have a chance to see each other on Sunday and most of the conversation went like this:
“Wow.”
“Yeah.”
“It was so good.”
“I know!”
“Yeah.”
“Wow.”

And if you were privy to the phone call you would have heard the smiles in our voices.

4 Comments
  • M-----l
    September 17, 2013

    Congratulations.

  • telrev
    September 18, 2013

    I toyed with the idea of going…and I’m extremely jealous of those who had the funds to do so and did.

    I’m still hopeful the boys to do something local…a couple nights at 1st Ave would be nice. I never got to see them the first time around, and although I’ve seen Tommy live several times over the years, I’ve never seen Paul live (other than the time I literally ran into him in Uptown).

    Thanks for your update…sounds like it was everything I would’ve hoped for…

    • Jodi
      September 18, 2013

      My brain is convinced they will be playing First Ave in November. In fact I believe this so thoroughly that if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be shocked.

      This was my first time seeing Tommy. I’ve seen Paul a bunch of times.

  • Shannon Couture. Father,son,brother,'Mats fan since '86. Milwaukee,WI.
    January 11, 2014

    Awesome words! My first “Mats concert was in 91 right after Paul quit drinking and the first words he said to the crowd before they proceded to tear it the fuck up was and i quote “Im intoxicated with your presence.” fast forward,2 years saw them at Summerfest,awesome, knew they were playing Grant Park later, decided,since it was a Thursday, and i had to work the next day, ill catch them later. Top 2 of the biggest regrets of my life!!!Seen Paul tons of times, ditto with Tommy and Slim(onstage with Slim,”Really bad guitar!”). When i heard the Replacements were back together, my first reaction was controlled paranoia, after all, im old,i shouldnt jump up and down, i might break a hip. I bought a 3 day pass to Chicago Riot fest, mainly bcuz i didnt want to take a chance on missing my favorite band. When they were having trouble with the lights onstage, I was cracking up, fuckin awesome were at a Replacements show! When Mother Nature wanted to pour but held off just a little, I was all smiles! When they hit the stage, and everyone started singing including me, I felt so happy, everyone here knows exactly what i feel, I’ll never forget it. Thanks,just found your site, therapeutic!

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *