|Anonymous American performs covers of songs by The Replacements.|
It was a pretty good night, especially so for fans of The Replacements. If you don't mind, I'll jump right into the reviews.
Have you ever read an oral history? If your answer is "no," you should know that they're basically a series of quotes from people that were involved in the story. In my recent favorite book on grunge, "Everybody Loves Our Town," people involved in the Seattle grunge scene talk about what it was like and what happened.
That's what this film is. It's a series of people (almost 150 of them) talking about The Replacements, going to their shows, being married to them and what the band meant to them (both as fans and as friends).
"If you claim not to be moved by 'Sorry Ma,' you're either a liar or comatose," read one press quote.
That would probably be the opinion of Greg Nelson and Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü, Colin Meloy of The Decemberists and Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem, who are just some of the people who talk about The Replacements, which one person described as "a janitor, a crazy drunk and a little kid." Others interviewed include the band's sound guy, Bob Stinson's wife, DJs from 89.3 The Current and music critic Robert Christgau.
You get a sense that some of the people couldn't exist without The Replacements. Indeed, all of the stories are fantastic, but also paint a wonderful, but ultimately sad and tragic, arc for the band. The band was so loved, but couldn't keep it together long enough to find commercial success. It made me cringe when sales numbers popped up on the screen and the best-selling music during The Mats' time included REO Speedwagon, Asia and MC Hammer. Ugh.
Some of the best stories told include how Tommy Stinson used to wear ankle weights in an effort to help him jump higher onstage, how every time the band screwed up at one show they would play "Help Me Rhonda," shaving their eyebrows for an MTV interview,
One of the most interesting things about the film is that it doesn't include any music by the band and none of them are interviewed. Additionally, no pictures are ever shown of the band until just before the credits. For me, it didn't matter. I could picture the guys in my head and when they started talking about "Bastards of Young," I could hear the song in my head. For fans of the band, I don't think the movie needs the music.
Whether you like/love/loathe the Replacements or just want to hear people passionately talk about music (or crazy band antics), you'll like this film.
As soon as the film was over (at two hours long, it could stand to be trimmed down a bit), director Gorman Bechard took the stage. He was asked quite a few questions that were pretty rote and were answered in a Q&A that was published in GO a week before.
But he was asked some interesting ones:
Q. Have you heard from anyone in the band? A. Peter Jesperson is a fan. Chris likes it. Heard Tommy had seen it and likes it.
Q. What about Paul? A. "Paul Westerberg is the JD Salinger of rock 'n' roll." Bechard said that even if Paul had seen it that he'd never comment on it.
Q. How many interviews did you do? A. 145.
Q. (my question) How did you first get into The Replacements? A. Bechard saw them open for R.E.M. at Toad's Place in 1983. "They were the worst band I'd ever seen." He said he came back to them later, then "Let It Be" came out. "Then that was it," he said.
Q. You interviewed a lot of DJs from the Current. Paul's sister (Mary Lucia) is a DJ there, too. Did you interview her? A. She didn't want to be interviewed.
I'm surprised more bands didn't jump at the opportunity to play this show, but sadly some probably don't know The Replacements or couldn't learn a few new songs before the show.
Anyway, the final lineup was Aaron Paker of Scratch Howl, The Traveling Mercies, Anonymous American and Witness Tree.
Though he was a little off, Parker had some giant balls to get up in front of a room full of 'Mats fans and play "Here Comes A Regular" and "Can't Hardly Wait" on an acoustic guitar. Bravo.
Traveling Mercies played one country sort of song that I wasn't that into, but then finished with a pretty faithful version of "Little Mascara."
Anonymous American played third and was my favorite. They did "Color Me Impressed," "I'll Be You" and "Left Of The Dial." Led by Matt Whipkey, the band tends to throw themselves into performances and this one was no different. Even though a lot of people don't like "I'll Be You," I thought it was cool to hear the band's biggest hit. And then "Left Of The Dial" is a pretty sweet song.
The night closed out with Witness Tree, a rock band from Elkhorn. They did "Valentine," "Can't Hardly Wait" and "Merry Go Round." I didn't know much about this band before, but I'd probably go check them out again.