Tag Archives: the Replacements

An open letter to my Color Me Obsessed fans

Hello,

I think I can probably qualify as a pretty big Replacements fan. I’ve loved them since about 1983. Have gone to every tour since, including every solo tour. So having watched and listened to Paul and company for that long I find myself not bothered one microscopic bit by this co-called break-up announcement. Why? you might ask. Because it’s the fucking Replacements. They live to fuck with us. That’s part of why we love them. Is there a more sarcastic genius on the planet than Paul? NO, there isn’t. So, my advice: everyone unruffle your panties, sit back, and wait. In the mean time, enjoy the music as you always have, enjoy the onslaught of live videos posted on YouTube, and be patient. What makes for great rock and roll is that you never know what’s going to happen next. And here we are…

Gorman Bechard
director, Color Me Obsessed

CMO-POSTER-FINAL-small

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Filed under Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion

The Best of 2014

Just as I will always remember that day in 1977 when I walked past Free Being Records on 2nd Avenue and saw that first Elvis Costello single hanging in the store’s window. Or in 1983, the Professor at Phoenix Records handing me the “I Will Dare” 12 inch and saying “I think you might like these guys.” Or being at a CMJ show at Tramps in 1993 when a band with the worst name in the world took the stage and became the band that saved my life. I will always remember the May 7th thread on my Facebook page where I was complaining about how another new music Tuesday came and went without anything worth listening to, and my friend Aggie Donkar wrote: “My favorite under the radar 2014 record is the new Lydia Loveless.”

I trusted Aggie’s taste, and bought the digital version of SOMEWHERE ELSE on Amazon. The opening track, REALLY WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN, started up with guitars that sounded like they belonged on PLEASE TO MEET ME, and then I heard her voice. And once again, just like that, just like in those examples stated above, my life was forever changed.

To say that Lydia Loveless took over my musical life in 2014 is a ridiculous understatement. Ask anyone who’s spent ten minutes with me. I even had friends who suggested an LL drinking game, doing a shot every time I mentioned her name or one of her songs, but then they realized they’d be drunk by 11 AM. Even when albums from old time favorites were released, I’d listen once, maybe twice, and turn right back to Lydia. And by mid-summer I was seriously thinking that this year’s top 10 album list would have spots two through ten left blank.

I eventually came to my senses. Sort of. Because there were other very good albums released this year. Some great albums. Those records are listed below.

But it was also the year of massive disappointment. Some of my favorite musicians of all time put out albums that I truly disliked (talking about you Lucinda, Ryan, Taylor, Ty, Lykke, Bob, EMA, Bruce). And bands that I had the highest hopes for released redundant piles of crap as their second album.

Of course did any of that matter when I got to see The Replacements live three times, including the home-coming show at Midway, which on a scale of one to ten, well, to paraphrase the brilliant Nigel Tufnel, “went to 11.”

So, without further blabbering, my list of the best of everything for 2014…

BEST ALBUMS:

Somewhere Else

1. SOMEWHERE ELSE – Lydia Loveless – I can think of few albums that are as perfectly in touch with everything I look for in music: great songwriting, ferocious guitar licks, a sense of humor, a sense of rock history, that record-it-live feeling, and a voice. Goddamn does she have a voice. Whether she’s belting out “Well there were times when I was not there for you at all” in the opening track, and you know she’s not being hard enough on herself, or evoking tears with those subtle hints of a vibrato in EVERYTHING’S GONE, a song about saving her family’s farm, Loveless’ voice is at the forefront here. I’ve described her to friends as the daughter Paul Westerberg and Lucinda Williams never knew they had, and even then I think I’m selling her short. This is a perfect record from the most important new artist of the last decade.

2. BURN YOUR FIRE FOR NO WITNESS – Angel Olsen – Noise and heartbreak collide in a collection of songs so stark you’ll feel uncomfortable, as if you’re peeking through someone’s bedroom window, and they know you’re there, but they keep on doing whatever it is despite you, or perhaps to spite you.

3. BOXERS – Matthew Ryan – It’s been a while since Matt Ryan has rocked. And this record comes across as if the pent up energy finally exploded and he couldn’t hold it back any longer. This is buckets of Springsteen, The Replacements, and The Clash flung against the wall, their colors streaming together to create something fresh and new and vibrant. This is the record so many other rockers tried to make this year, failing miserably.

4. HERE AND NOWHERE ELSE – Cloud Nothings – For the longest time I was not going to put this record on this list because of how much I detested their live performance. But then I realized that wasn’t fair to the record, which was a damn great indie rock record with shades of Archers and the Mats running throughout. Buy the album, skip the show (unless you’re into a bunch of kids standing around looking at themselves as if they’re in their garage practicing).

5. BENJAMIN BOOKER – Benjamin Booker – This is such a nasty rock and roll record you’ll need a shower afterwards. Dirty is the word that comes to mind when I think of both his exquisite guitar playing and vocal delivery. Just so fucking good.

6. LET’S NOT BE FRIENDS – The Girls! – Everything about this record makes me smile. This is pure punk pop bliss. Great songs, great riffs, and a sexy sense of humor. And “Sophomore” is one of the best odes to sexual frustration I’ve heard in a long while.

7. METAMODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY MUSIC – Sturgill Simpson – This is Hank Williams country. This is Johnny Cash. Basically, there’s dark, and then there’s Simpson. “Woke up today and decided to kill my ego.” Fuck, man! Not always easy to listen to, but a great record.

8. SUKIERAE – Tweedy – This record feels like a long walk through your childhood neighborhood with an old friend. You talk, you laugh, you cry a little, all the while polishing off that sixer of Bud, ‘cause it’s the only thing your granddad had in the fridge.

9. HEIGH HO – Blake Mills – Really hard to describe, so let’s say noise alt-country pop. And if that doesn’t make you want to listen I don’t know why you’re reading my list in the first place. Every song is sort of a Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened.

OTHER GREAT ALBUMS:

THE BEST DAY – Thurston Moore

RIPS – Ex Hex

FAMOUS GRAVES – Cheap Girls

ENGLISH OCEANS – Drive-By Truckers

AND THE WAR CAME – Shakey Graves

PAINT ANOTHER LAYER ON MY HEART – Caleb Caudle

WORST ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

DISGRACELAND – The Orwells – After showing such amazing punk/pop/rock potential with their first album, The Orwells returned with an unlistenable collection of songs not even worthy of a B-side. It’s the laziest record of the year. As if they went into the studio with the mindset that David Letterman loves us and we can do no wrong. Well, you did wrong, boys. This record sucks.

BEST SONG OF THE YEAR:

MILE HIGH – Lydia Loveless – I don’t know any other way to say it: THIS IS A PERFECT SONG. It’s full of confusion and longing and wit. It’s feminine/masculine, it’s breathless. And it fucking rocks. It’s on endless repeat.

OTHER GREAT SONGS:

UNFUCKTHEWORLD – Angel Olsen – an ode to when everything perfect breaks. Her whisper gives me chills.

GOD’S NOT HERE TONIGHT – Matthew Ryan – This is the perfect anthem for this broken, fucked-up year. A BASTARDS OF YOUNG minus the hope.

MESMERIZE – The Girls! – Just a freakin’ great song. Nothing more need be said.

IT AIN’T ALL FLOWERS – Sturgill Simpson – You wake up in a strange room next to someone you’ve never seen before, stumble towards the bathroom, catch your reflection is a cracked mirror, what’s all that blood!   You drop to your knees, the room is spinning, and everything would be alright if you could just remember your fucking name. That’s this song.

BEST COVER SONG:

COME PICK ME UP – Superchunk – Mac and company take the classic Ryan Adams heartbreaker and rock it the fuck out. They make it theirs. And that’s saying a lot when the original is one of the great songs of all time.

BEST BOX SET/REISSUE/RECORD THAT DOESN’T FALL INTO ONE OF THE CATEGORIES ABOVE:

ALPHA MIKE FOXTROT: RARE TRACKS 1994-2014 – Wilco – A collection that makes you realize the scope and talent of this band. Beautifully packaged, with 77 tracks of outtakes and demos and live recordings. It’s like the Tweedy album, except this time your friend is telling you all these great secrets which make you grin from ear to ear.

BEST LIVE SHOW:

The Replacements – Midway Stadium , St. Paul, MN – What separated this show from the other 4 Mats concerts I’ve seen since the reunion was the emotion. It was a homecoming of rock and roll soldiers we all thought were long lost as war. They raised their guitars as high as the flag on Iwo Jima and showed us that their songs could never be defeated. And we were all a little teary eyed singing along with Paul to UNSATISFIED.

RUNNER UP:

Lydia Loveless – the Studio at Webster Hall – in any other year this show would have been number one. It was everything you could possibly want from a rock show: noisy one moment, a whisper the next, chaotic, frantic, full of surprises. Do not miss Lydia and company when they play your town in 2015. Because even compared to the reunited Mats, hers is the greatest rock band on the planet right now.

BEST NARRATIVE FILM:

IDA – directed by Paweł Pawlikowski – Quiet, haunting, and chillingly beautiful, this is a masterpiece of the sort Bergman might have made in the late 1950. A story of a young nun about to take her vows only to learn from her one living relative that she is Jewish. You will never forget this film.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM:

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER – directed by John Maloof & Charlie Siskel – a thrilling mystery that begins with a box of photo negatives bought at an auction and leads you through a life of a woman who was secretly one of the greatest photographers of our time. To everyone other than herself she was simply a nanny. Completely captivating.

BEST TV:

HOMELAND – Claire Danes and company came back from a horrible third season with a vengeance. This is edge of your seat, scream at the TV, need a stiff drink sort of drama. And while the ending was a slow burn, if was probably necessary after the wringer they put us through.

BOOKS OF THE YEAR:

DO NOT SELL AT ANY PRICE: THE WILD, OBSESSIVE HUNT FOR THE WORLD’S RAREST 78RPM RECORDS by Amanda Petrusich – More than just about old guys looking for 78s, it’s about obsession, about the history of American music, it’s about what drives us. I wish it were twice as long. Brilliant!

HOPE FOR FILM: FROM THE FRONT LINE OF THE INDEPENDENT CINEMA REVOLUTIONS by Ted Hope – a real-life in-the-trenches look at what it takes to make an independent feature. Trust me when I tell you, Hope knows what he’s talking about. Every filmmaker, every producer should read this book. You’ll learn more here than you will in any film class on the planet.

And that’s it. That’s enough. We’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up this year. A DOG NAMED GUCCI will be premiering shortly. And in January I’ll be announcing rock doc number four. Stay tuned. Come back for more. And please, never tell me to turn it down, ‘cause it ain’t loud enough.

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Slim Dunlap benefit at Parkway Theatre in MPLS on All Replacements Eve

Two weeks from tonight, on the eve of the national holiday to celebrate The Replacements (and their St. Paul gig)…we’re throwing a benefit for Slim Dunlap at the Parkway Theatre in Minneapolis, featuring a Scott D. Hudson podcast, two sets of Slim and Mats tunes from a bevy of amazing musicians moderated by Jon Clifford, and a completely different version of Color Me Obsessed, edited just for this night.  (I’m calling it “The Editing Room Floor Edition,” and it doesn’t so much tell the story of the Mats but instead is a collection of many smile-inducing tales, many of which never made it into the film.”)

Plus we will be raffling away tons of cool items all night, including a signed copy of Amanda Petrusich amazing new book on record collecting, a gorgeous Erica Bruce Mats still photo, signed CDs from Lydia LovelessMatthew Ryan, and others, a signed copy of Jim Walsh‘s photographic history, a few dozen DVD’s from my distributor MVD, and so so so so much more…(yes, even some of my crap.)

And all profits are going to help cover Slim’s medical expenses. If you’re in the Twin Cities area…well, you know what you have to do! There will be many great surprises. This is the Mats party everyone will be talking about.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/719166908137828/

Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/841675

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Filed under paul westerberg, replacements, the replacements, Uncategorized

The Best of 2013

It was a very good year.  A great year even.  Hell, The Replacements played their first shows in 22 years.  And from a rock & roll point of view, that should make it the best year in, well, 22 years.  That they took to the stage with the energy of an atomic bomb on pharmaceutical speed playing so many songs from that brilliant first album is perhaps just a bonus, though I prefer to think of it as fate.  That the rock gods were looking down and thought we needed a reminder of the chaos, the sputtering genius, the sheer power that rock could provide.  And they all looked at one another, and shrugged, the answer obvious, time for the Mats to play a few shows.

It was a year in which their first album, SORRY MA, FORGOT TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH, suddenly became this old fan’s favorite Replacements record.  Can’t explain it really.  Perhaps the seeds were planted when I started work on COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS, but those seeds sprouted and bloomed this year.   I love that record.  Played it more than any other this year.  Realized there wasn’t a bad track on it.  That is contained some of the most brilliant licks, sarcastic jabs, and all-out fuck-you rock & roll EVER recorded.  And ok, it’s 32 years after the fact, but better late than never.

But it was also a year in which other old punks blinded us with their brilliance.   Superchunk and Grant Hart put out two wildly different records in I HATE MUSIC and THE ARGUMENT, but both were vast in scope and timelessness, as if both artists had been holding back for all these years, and for some reason felt it were time to unleash the monsters they had munching on their souls.  These are the sort of albums that make you cry the first time you hear them.  They did me.  They are faith renewing.  Faith in the power of music to make your mind dance.

The young woman behind my favorite album from 2012 (and it still remains at the top of that list), Katie Crutchfield, returned with a very strong follow up in CERULEAN SALT.  And though it seemed to widen her fan base, it didn’t resonate with me the way AMERICAN WEEKEND did last year.  But to compare it to that masterpiece is selling the album short.  It’s a great record.  (NOTE: if any of you were turned off by the worst video of the year in COAST TO COAST, proof that still photographers rarely can make the jump to shooting images that move, Ms. Crutchfield more than made up for it in the video for MISERY OVER DISPUTE.)

David Bowie returned with a record that in parts took me back to being a 13-year-old and hearing ZIGGY STARDUST for the first time.  Was it a perfect record, no.  But a number of its songs were perfect, noisy in the way that only Tony Visconti could create in 1972.  And coming from Bowie with Visconti behind the boards, that’s enough.

Aubery Debauchery also returned after too many years with a mature (in the best sense of that word) collection of songs that seemed almost harshly reflective on her past.  She bared her soul and in turn broke my heart.  I love this woman’s voice.

With all the great alt-country female artists making waves this year, none shined brighter than Amanda Shires.  Her album was not a collection of a few “hits” and a lot of filler, but instead well-thought out record with one song being stronger than the next.  And the same can be said of Lorde.  Unlike the other pop queens, her album shined from the first note to the last.  ROYALS is not even the best track.

It was one of those years.  Great ALBUMS.  Not just random collections of songs.  Listen to ONCE I WAS AN EAGLE from Laura Marling or the rapturous return to form from Throwing Muses in PURGATORY / PARADISE (it was certainly a Milton inspired year) to the dangerous sexual anarchy of Sky Ferreira.  (And ok, while Miley Cyrus’ latest certainly doesn’t fall into the best album category, WRECKING BALL was the single that stuck in my head more than any other, and never once did I mind.  It’s a brilliant ballad.  Beautifully performed, and nicely under-produced for a “hit.”)

New rock was also alive in Potty Mouth and Speedy Ortiz.  Electric folk was injected with new life in Jake Bugg.  And some of the greatest musicians of recent memory came together to help a fallen guitar legend in SONG FOR SLIM.

And, oh yeah, The Replacements put out a 5-song EP for that same reason.  And they covered EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES from the old musical GYPSY.  And really now, does it get any better than that?

My Best Albums of 2013 (in alphabetical order):

THE ARGUMENT – Grant Hart

CERULEAN SALT – Waxahatchee

DEATH OF A DREAM – Aubery Debauchery & The Broken Bones

DOWN FELL THE DOVES – Amanda Shires

HELL BENT – Potty Mouth

I HATE MUSIC – Superchunk

JAKE BUGG – Jake Bugg

LIVE AT THE CELLAR DOOR – Neil Young

MAJOR ARCANA – Speedy Ortiz

THE NEXT DAY – David Bowie

NIGHT TIME, MY TIME – Sky Ferreira

ONCE I WAS AN EAGLE – Laura Marling

PURE HEROINE – Lorde

PURGATORY / PARADISE – Throwing Muses

SONGS FOR SLIM – Various Artists

BEST EP:

SONGS FOR SLIM – The Replacements

SINGLE OF THE YEAR:

WRECKING BALL – Miley Cyrus

MUSIC VIDEOS OF THE YEAR:

69 – Ida Maria

MASTER HUNTER  – Laura Marling

BIGGEST JOKE OF THE YEAR

Critics who kiss Kanye West’s ass (learn there is a difference between a brilliant artist who takes chances, and a self-indulgent egomaniac who thinks he can fart into a can and it will sell a million copies because it carries his name).

BEST MOVIE:

NEBRASKA – a simple story with breathtaking performances told in resplendent black and white.  A masterpiece.

RUNNER UP:

FRANCES HA – a heart-breaking portrait of Greta Gerwig as a confused young woman.  A beautiful, subtle performance.  (And though it’s also in black and white, after watching the embarrassingly pretentious DVD extra about the film’s look, I might suggest that Sam Levy and company watch NEBRASKA so they can learn what black and white should really look like.)

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

BLACKFISH – a must-watch film about a different sort of animal abuse.  And it’s having an impact.  Kudos to every musician who’s cancelled shows at Sea World.

DVD OF THE YEAR:

STARLET – the poster child for what a great indie film should be.  Drew Hemingway is a revelation.  And the many extras are all worth watching.

BEST TV:

Unfortunately it was the year of shark jumping.  Lots and lot of shark jumping.

BOOK OF THE YEAR:

HYPERBOLE AND A HALF – Allie Brosh – if Kurt Vonnegut was a 20-something woman living in Bend, Oregon today this would have been his first book.  And I can’t give it higher praise than that.

FILM-RELATED BOOK OF THE YEAR:

TELL ME SOMETHING: ADVICE FROM DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS – a collection of short clippets of advise from the world’s greatest documentarians.  Think of it as Chicken Soup for the Filmmaker’s Soul.  But work reading by any and every artist, if only for Errol Morris’ wise words of wisdom: “When you go to people for advice, expect the worst.”

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Filed under Best Music of Year, best of 2013, best of the year

The Replacements – live at RiotFest Toronto – a review, of sorts

First time I ever saw/heard The Replacement was when they opened for R.E.M. at a club in New Haven, Connecticut called Toad’s Place.  It was July 17th, 1983.  I was 24-years-old, a few months away from directing my first feature film, a horror thing called “Disconnected.”  (Not a very good film.  But I learned a lot.)  My girlfriend at the time, Kathy, and I were leaning right up against the stage.  We had already seen R.E.M. once before when they came around in support of their debut EP.  Now they had an excellent first album.  We were pretty psyched.

The opening band came out finally.  And I so remember turning to Kathy as we both wondered “what the fuck is this?”  They were so drunk, so blatantly obnoxious.  And to top it off the guitar player was wearing a dress.  (Not that I had anything against rockers in drag.  David Bowie was very much responsible for my love of rock & roll.  But this guy wasn’t David Bowie.)  We turned our backs on the band and leaned back against the stage.

Needless to say, we made a mistake.

Needless to say, by the next year they were my favorite band.

The Replacements

The Replacements

I thank The Professor for that.  Walking into his sprawling Phoenix Record shop in Waterbury, he handed me my weekly collection of vinyl that I was going to love, but I didn’t quite know it yet.  And one week in that stack was the “I Will Dare” 12-inch.

It was hard to connect the band playing that song to the band I saw on stage.  But they were somehow one in the same.  And when “Let It Be” arrived shortly thereafter, well, pretty much everything changed.

Now we jump ahead thirty years.  During that time the majority of the people I work with on my films would be born.  I would have gotten married and stayed married for going on twenty-one years to a woman named Kristine who also called The Replacements her favorite band.  (And Kathy would go on to be Kristine’s Maid-Of-Honor at our wedding.)  The Replacements, of course would break up in 1991.  I’d fall in deeply love with a few other bands, namely Archers of Loaf and Wilco.  I write a bunch of books.  Make a boatload of movies, including documentaries on two of those favorite bands, The Mats and Archers.  Kristine and I would raise our family of dogs.  I’d even get my first tattoo at the age of 51 so I could always remember one of those dogs, Mr. Kilgore Trout.

And then the world turned slightly on its side.

Now, after making COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS, I had been often asked if they would ever reunite.  I always answered emphatically, “No.”  It was just never going to happen.

Needless to say, another mistake.

But I never believed in miracles.

And whether is was getting together to record the “Songs For Slim” EP, or Paul and Tommy finally realizing the love for the band never faded.  Or something else altogether, the time was right, the stars aligned, it didn’t matter.

Three RiotFest shows were announced.  Kris and I spent hours talking about it.  I already had a lot of traveling in my near future because of shooting for the A DOG NAMED GUCCI animal abuse film, and the premieres of both my drama BROKEN SIDE OF TIME and the Grant Hart documentary EVERY EVERYTHING.  Plus Kris would just be coming off a long vacation.  Would we?  Should we?

How the fuck could we not!

Like so many hundreds (thousands?) of Mats fans around the country (world?), we made the necessary arrangements.  Even stopping along the way for the night at Niagara Falls as a hoot.  (Quite amazing to see in person, if I do say so.)  Arriving in Toronto (one of my favorite cities in the world) the day before.  We went for a lovely vegetarian dinner with friends, then met up with even more friends for beers at the Elephant & Castle on Yonge Street.

One of those friends was Robert Voedisch, our bearded farm boy from CMO.  He shared an amazing story about having the worst week of his life, losing his passport, etc., and so on, only to make it to the airport and run into The Replacements, who were on the same flight to Toronto as he was.  His story was vivid and wonderful and Kris and I marveled as if we were watching some outtake from CMO that we had never seen.

Paul Westerberg and Robert Voedisch Photo by Voedisch

Paul Westerberg and Robert Voedisch
Photo by Voedisch

Conversation turned of course to what we all expected in terms of a set list for Sunday evening.  It’s a conversation that would be repeated the next day over lunch with yet more friends.  We all expected the “hits” for lack of a better word, but the big disagreement was over opening song.  Many thought “Talent Show,” others thought “I’ll Be You” because of its line about being from Canada, “Bastards of Young” turned up in the mix.  I was the only person who insisted it would be “Takin’ A Ride.”  Not because I had any inside information.  But because I truly felt the band would not only have to remind the crowd who they really once were, but they would also have to remind themselves.

And what better way?

We arrived at Fort York a little after six PM.  I really wasn’t interested in seeing any of the other bands.  Not that a few didn’t hold interest.  It was The Replacements day.  I was nervous for them.  I was nervous for us.  I was nervous for the thousands in attendance.  I was nervous for rock & roll.

(And yes, I was figuratively turning my back on those opening bands.  Some habits die hard, though I’d learned my lesson the hard way.)

Kris at one point asked if I were okay.  “Not really,” I replied.  “I’m more anxious than at one of the premieres for my own films.”  And Kris knows how I make myself sick at those.

So really by the time Iggy took the stage, I had no patience.  Not ever a fan, I just truly found him annoying, like the mosquito that won’t go away, and that for some reason you can’t fucking squash.  It could have been the performance of a lifetime.  He could have done an encore with the reunited Beatles including both Lennon and Harrison having risen from the dead.  I didn’t fucking care.

Get off the stage.  Get off the stage.  Please get off the fucking stage.

The Replacements were scheduled to start their set at 8:45 and play for 75 minutes.  The festival had a hard out, and the “noise” had to end at 10 PM.

Once Iggy’s set and the half hour in-between were quite possibly the longest moments of my life.  Like waiting for a doctor to tell you if you were going to live or die.  And all the time thinking, this doctor is always late.

But quite possibly for the first time in their lives The Replacements were right on time.

They took the stage.  (The Replacements were on stage in front of me.  I cannot write enough variations of that sentence.)  Paul Westerberg, as out-of-tune stylishly as ever, cracked wise, and then it started.  And four measures into the breakneck throb of an open to “Takin’ A Ride” every bit of anxiety I felt beforehand melted away.  Any worries that the audience felt, any doubts the band felt, had all been in vain.  Paul Westerberg stepped to the mic, as cock-eyed and crooked as I had remembered, sang “Stay right there/Go no further,” and Goddamn we were transported back in time.  Only this time I was not going to turn my back on the stage.  I would never make that mistake again.  And no worries, Paul.  No one was going anywhere.

And while cohort Tommy Stinson might not have been leaping six feet into the air, he was a punk rock whirling dervish around the stage.  Both he and Westerberg were having fun.  That might have been the biggest surprise of all.  The nicest surprise.  And I don’t think I could have been happier for anyone.  They were enjoying themselves.  Joking, whispering in each others’ ears, playing the songs that meant so much to so many.  When flubbing the lyrics of “I Will Dare,” Westerberg was as self-deprecating as ever.   Cockyand sarcastic, yet loveable in a way few could ever achieve.  He even came out in a Montreal Canadiens’ t-shirt (Toronto’s arch rivals) for the encore.  It was a Replacements move. I’m tempted to say “vintage.”  But it was happening in real time.  It happened just the other night.  It’s not vintage if it never went away.  And for so many of us, this band has never gone away.

And doubters be damned, Bob Stinson was just as much on that stage as was Chris Mars and Slim Dunlap.  They were channeling their energies into the replacement Replacements, guitarist David Minehan, who played all those blessed wrong notes the right way, and drummer Josh Freese who pounded like a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot on speed.  They were tight.  And even all the right notes were perfectly out of place.

Set list photo by Jesse Malin

Set list photo by Jesse Malin

The set list itself was a thing of beauty.  Heavy on the early rockers: “I’m In Trouble,” “Favorite Thing,” “Color Me Impressed,” “Love You Till Friday” into a breakneck cover of “Mabeline.”  The boys weren’t taking this reunion thing in stride.  If they were going to do it, they were going to do it right.  And they weren’t going to give us the band circa 1991.  This was 1984/1985 vintage Replacements, firing on all cylinders.

In a word, they sounded great.  If you closed your eyes you could imagine you were at one of those shows way back when where they hadn’t gotten too drunk, but instead had decided they were in the mood to play the greatest rock show of all time.

Of course it ended much too soon.  “Bastards of Young” closing the set, as raindrops started to lightly fall.  Ilona, my fictional Daughter of God, whose favorite band was The Replacements, no longer able to hold back her tears of joy.  They came back for a two song encore, “Everything Is Coming Up Roses” an old Broadway standard that only The Replacements could rock, and “I.O.U.” from “Pleased to Meet Me.”  And the show was over.  The impossible really had happened.

And it happened oh, so fucking well.

Was it a miracle?  Well, in the 80s The Replacements took a few albums worth of songs and fed the rock-starved world.  Those same songs have taught the world not how to fish, but how to rock & roll.

And I’m pretty sure I saw them walking on water as they left the stage.

revised RiotFest poster

revised RiotFest poster

the original flyer

the original flyer

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Filed under replacements reunion, riotfest, the replacements

I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks…

Let me try to explain what that means to me.  It would be like an extremely devout Catholic meeting the Pope.  Like a Chicago Cubs fan not only seeing their team make it into the World Series, but sweeping the other team.  Like a Jets fan seeing their team go undefeated.  Like buying that Powerball ticket and being the lone winner of a few hundred million dollars.  It’s a dream.  It’s unreal.  It could never happen.

But two weeks from now, on a Sunday evening in Toronto, they will take the stage.  Will they play a perfect set of their most beloved songs?  Will they be in cantankerous moods and play only parts of inconceivable cover songs?  Will they rock?  Roll?  Will they have mellowed with age?  Will they tear the non-existent roof off the fucking joint?  It doesn’t matter.  It’s a Replacements show.  We’re not supposed to know what to expect.  As long as they show up.

There are of course the naysayers.  Those who say, “This isn’t The Replacements, it’s just Paul and Tommy.”  To them I say, “shut the fuck up.”  Bob is gone.  Slim is ill.  And Chris just doesn’t want to be a part of it.  But still, this is Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson taking the stage and playing the songs that changed our lives, that in many cases defined our lives.  If you have issue with it, don’t go.  (Though I truly believe the naysayers are only naysayers because they can’t get to one of the three shows. Put a ticket in their hands and they’d be singing a different tune.)

I think about those I know who’ve never seen the band.  Those who came late to the show (and coming late is a hell of a lot better than never showing up at all), or those who were too young to see the band during their day.  The excitement they must be feeling as they think, I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of all the times one of their songs has figuratively saved by life.  The blaring of “Here Comes A Regular,” and it somehow making me feel just a tad better, because I was not that guy in the song.  The loud out-of-tune howling of “Unsatisfied,” knowing that I was not alone in the world.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of the joy songs like “Color Me Impressed” or “Can’t Hardly Wait” or “If Only You Were Lonely” have brought me over the years.  Always played a little too loud.  Often played on endless repeat.  Songs that still make me feel alive to this day.  Songs that make me feel young, invincible, loud, brash, horny, crazy.  The soundtrack to my personal life.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of the inspiration the band has given me.  Whether writing a book or working on a film, they were always there in the background.  The soundtrack to my professional life.  Stuck?  Put on a Mats tune. Need to wake up?  Put on a Mats tune.  Done?  Put on a Mats tune.  They were even characters in my first novel.  Not that this band needed to be fictionalized, they were always larger than life.  But what other band would God’s daughter claim as her favorite?  She is divine.  She knows everything.  She knows rock & roll.  Ilona Ann Coggswater would be so happy for me.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of the times I’ve seen them live.  One of my favorite musical moments, Paul Westerberg coming back alone for the encore at the Beacon Theatre.  A balloon in hand.  Sucking in the helium.  Singing “Hello Dolly” acapella, then leaving the stage, leaving us all wondering “what the fuck?”  The audience cleared out, and when the last fan had left the building, the band burst back onto the stage, and ripped into a rollicking encore, leaving all of us to rush back in from the street.  If was a moment I’ll never forget.  I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

I think of my wife beautiful Kristine, by my side for thirteen of the fifteen times I’ve seen them.  Married for twenty years now.  Often times people would ask our secret.  I would ask Kris, “What’s your favorite band?”  She’d answer “The Replacements.  What’s yours?”  And I’d answer “The Replacements.”  And that would be the answer to the question.  We’re seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

And of course, I think of being able to direct “Color Me Obsessed, a film about The Replacements.”  Meeting and interviewing so many like-minded fans, some famous, many not, people who knew them, worked with them, produced their albums, wrote about them, were influenced by them, spent more time with them than any of their teenaged friends.  An honor.  I was humbled by the love, the devotion.  I never felt more connected to people in my life.  I was not alone.  And I’m seeing The Replacements in two weeks.

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Filed under replacements, replacements reunion, the replacements

DVD release dates!

Sorry it’s been a while…

First, spent a lot of August in Minneapolis filming EVERY EVERYTHING, THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART.

Second, really started hard editing of BROKEN SIDE OF TIME, part two of my Alone Trilogy.

Third, was in Key West, one of my favorite places on earth, with Kris, celebrating our 20th anniversary.

But today, the pressing matter is the DVD release date for both COLOR ME OBSESSED and WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

NOVEMBER 20TH!

MARK IT DOWN!

Now a little on both releases…(click the title to pre-order)

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? THE ARCHERS OF LOAF LIVE AT CAT’S CRADLE

To me, the Archers of Loaf were the single greatest band of the 90s. They saved my love of music after The Replacement broke up, and I truly felt no band would ever fill those dirty Converse All Stars.

I will always remember the first time I saw the Archers live at a CMJ showcase at Tramps in NYC. Within 30 seconds I knew I had discovered my new favorite band. And that’s never changed. I do honestly believe WEB IN FRONT is the greatest song ever written. Ever. It makes me happy. The band makes me happy.

But of course all good things must come to an end as they did in 1998. A true story: I knew the band, and knew WHITE TRASH HEROES would be their last album. The day it was released I drove some 45 minutes to pick it up, and listened to it blissfully for the first time on the ride home, having to pull over as the last song came on, because knowing it was the last new song I’d ever hear from them I began to cry. I sat in a bank parking lot the tears flowing uncontrollably as the final refrains of that amazing title track played on my car’s speakers.

Jump forward to 2011. My first rock documentary, COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS, was doing quite well on the festival circuit. I knew I wanted to make a second rock doc. And one afternoon my wife informed me that the Archers were reuniting for a tour, and I knew I had my next subject. I won’t go into the details of talking the camera-sky band into the project, but after seeing their two LA performances I knew I had to do everything in my power to forever preserve this energy for future generations. Especially in a time when going to a rock show usually means seeing a wimpy band who looks even more bored than the texting crowd members who are more interested in talking or being seen.

Cat’s Cradle was the obvious venue. So I got together some of my favorite crew members I’d worked with in recent years. Jan Radder and Sarah Hajtol, who were my right and left hands in making COLOR ME. Adrian Correia who did such an amazing job shooting my FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) — the original FWB movie. As well as Cory Maffucci and Andrew Ross. We had seven cameras in all, with me on Eric Johnson’s side of the stage, Sarah on Matt Gentling’s, Jan with two cameras behind drummer Mark Price, Adrian roaming the audience, Cory watching over the Red One capturing our wide shot, and Andrew on the catwalk covering the crowd.

I shot the interviews myself a few months later in their hometown of Asheville, then I went home and cut together the truly mind-blowing footage to Brian Paulson’s astounding mix.

I’ve made a number of films, written a bunch of books, but never in 30 years did I have more fun doing anything. This is my proudest moment as a filmmaker, because not only do I feel I have made a great film, I know I have helped preserve an important part of rock history, proof that rock once had balls, and at times, still can.

I love this band, and have never found a replacement for them. I doubt I ever will.

And FYI: the set list from the film can be seen as the background to the poster. The DVD 12 contains 6 additional songs from the two Cradle shows, and 4 extra interviews with the band members.

COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS

Just want you to know how proud we are of this DVD release. On it you’ll find 6 hours of extras including 19 deleted scenes, the complete interviews with Grant Hart of Husker Du, famed rock critic Robert Christgau, and Sound Opinions hosts Greg Kot & Jim DeRogatis, a behind the scenes interview with me, and another with Hansi Oppenheimer who originated the project years ago. Plus there are two commentaries, one from me, and the other from our Minneapolis producer Jan Radder. Throw in 4 trailers, and you have one hell of a DVD!!!

Color Me Obsessed was a blast to make. And for anyone wondering why there’s no band or music, that was the concept from the start. We never even asked to speak with the band, never asked to use the music. Never. From the get-go I wanted to turn the rock doc genre on its ear. And for a band who shot a stereo speaker for 4 minutes for its first music video, I think this approach is appropriate and more than fitting.

A number of critics seem to agree. Rolling Stone called it one of “the seven best new music documentaries of the year.” The Village Voice called it “the rock version of Rashomon.” David Carr, the NY Times columnist tweeted “You can feel The Replacements in every single frame.” And the raves go on and on (even check the IMDb user comments).

For fans, you will be reaching for your Mats albums the moment the end credits roll. (NOTE: the film doesn’t end with the end credits. There’s more!)

And for music lovers not familiar with The Replacements, you will be armed with everything you need to discover them and fall in love with them as we did so many years back.

As CHARTattack said, “the film is a shockingly refreshing and invigorating experience for anyone who ever care about any kind of music at all.”

All for now…

Hope you enjoy the films!

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Filed under archers of loaf, Color Me Obsessed, documentaries, filmmaking, the replacements