Advice to all ye survivors of the Atmospherathon: If it meant anything at all to you, clip and save Peter Scholtes's game story or write it down for yourself, because sure as that ringing in your ears, it will fade. Some 20 years ago (October, 1985), the Atmosphere of the day--the Replacements--did an unforgettable five-night stand in the Entry to celebrate the release of Tim. But when asked to recount details last week, most witnesses said, "I forget." Or, "I was drunk." Still, a few hardy souls came up with some crawling-from-the-wreckage memories:
Jim Peterson (then manager of Oarfolkjokeopus Records, which had recently been gutted by a fire): "My life was totally unsettled in October 1985. The Oarfolk fire had just happened, on October 7, I think. In fact, I think someone had just done a window display for Tim the night of the fire. It was kind of mind-blowing to have these shows happen the next week. But again, part of the greatness of the five nights was just being around that community of people who had followed the band for so long, rooted for them, been frustrated by them. I don't know that the shows had any real lasting impact, but they really took my mind off the problem of what to do with my life for a few days."
Burl Gilyard (writer): "I was just 18, so I could only go to the first two shows, the all-ages shows. I probably would have gone to all five had I been of age. As I recall, the openers were A Few and Soul Asylum for those two nights. I remember it had the aura of a landmark event, the audacity of a five-night Entry stand. I don't think they played the Entry again after that. I just remember thinking that they were great shows, but I confess I don't remember any real specifics, beyond an attempt at 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.' But these weren't the 'poop' shows--they came to play."
Peter Jesperson (then-Replacements' manager): "We were trying to do a record-release party that wasn't just another night in the mainroom. Paul hit on the idea of a five-night stand in the Entry instead. I remember Paul and I meeting with Steve McClellan to talk about the details. The band had reached a certain level by this time and I think Steve was expecting a number of conditions that he'd have to meet. We went into his office and Paul simply said, 'I want a klieg light out front of the Entry every night and free pop for the kids.' Which, of course, the club happily provided.
"My life was the band then. Trying to take care of them and their business as best I could. We were touring a lot. They'd been signed to Warner Bros. earlier in the year; they'd recorded their fifth album over the summer with Tommy (Ramone) Erdelyi producing. It seemed like they were finally getting their due and it was very gratifying. The five-night stand was a validation of sorts. I was extremely proud; it was terribly exciting as an event but I don't think any of those shows were among the band's best. I certainly saw the 'Mats do better shows, before and after."
Brad Zellar, writer:"The Entry was by that time of course much too small for them, the venue and the stage. They seemed penned in on that tiny stage with the crowds pressing in around them. I always stood in the back along the wall next to the sound booth, and it was claustrophobic and hot for those shows. Around then was when I started to realize how big they had become--there were suddenly all sorts of people I didn't know or even recognize at the shows, as opposed to the days when I'd run into pretty much everyone in my circle of friends and acquaintances every time I went down to see them or any other band at the Entry.
"I'm pretty sure that those shows were the last time, for a variety of complicated reasons, that I got really excited about going out to see a band. There was so much hype surrounding them pretty much from the onslaught that followed Let It Be right through Tim and that series of shows, and I'd never before been wild about a band that got that kind of exposure or attention. Guys like us get ripped all the time by whippersnappers who accuse us of being overly nostalgic for those days, but it really was a weird and wonderful time, and I was pretty much always very drunk, so there was something sort of elegiac about it as well, because you almost had the feeling that right then you were seeing a comet right before it starts to break up and gets folded back into darkness."