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A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12

A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
Photo By Erik Hess

A Tribute to the Replacements
First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
November 23, 2012

This year's 5th annual tribute to the Replacements took on an added level of importance as the fun-filled celebration of the music of the 'Mats also turned into a benevolent fundraiser for their ailing former guitarist Slim Dunlap. And while Slim's continued struggle to recover from a stroke earlier this year cast a bit of a pall over the proceedings, the raucous songs of the Replacements kept everyone in both the Mainroom and the Entry in fine spirits, as did all of the bands who used their rousing sets to show just how much the 'Mats music means to them.

See Also: 
Craig Finn performs "Skyway" at Replacements tribute [VIDEO]
Slideshow: A Tribute to the Replacements, 11/23/12
More Replacements benefit EP details as Slim Dunlap nears hospital exit

The night started in the Mainroom, as Jim Walsh's Mad Ripple Hootenanny, which was originally scheduled to take place in the Entry, was moved to the big stage. And it's a good thing it was, as the collaborative, talented group paying tribute to Slim's songs eventually swelled to 12-members strong at the finish, with Dan Israel, Martin Devaney, Terry Walsh, Nick Leet, Ben Glaros, Curtiss A, and others sitting in at one point or another. "Times Like This," the smooth singalong of "Cozy," and the impassioned closer "Partners In Crime," all were packed with extra feeling by musicians who were truly singing and playing for a dear friend, getting the night off to a strong, emotional start.

A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
Photos By Erik Hess

The action stayed in the Mainroom as the night's host and one of the event organizers Dave Campbell joined Story Of The Sea for a lively, Don't Tell A Soul-heavy set. Starting with a bouncy version of "Talent Show," and a boisterous take on "Color Me Impressed," the guys really caught fire on "Achin' to Be," "I'll Be You," and a terrific take on "Left of the Dial," perhaps a subtle nod to Campbell's day job with the Current.

Things in the Entry heated up for the first time with the young Minneapolis band Blue Ruin, who delivered a short but explosive set which was aided by the intimate confines of the room and the buzz starting to build in the swelling crowd. "Raised In the City" and "Shiftless When Idle" both sounded rowdy and raw in one of the rooms where the 'Mats first made their name, and their set closed with a vehement take on the song that gives this blog it's name. They introduced "Gimme Noise" by saying, "This is the song we know the least, and it's also the most punk rock," and the emerging group did it justice with an unruly version as the audience responded in kind.

The Belfast Cowboys gave the 'Mats material a soulful, bluesy touch, with earnest versions of "Hold My Life," "Portland" and the first of a few different times we'd hear "Kiss Me On the Bus" throughout the night. Walsh and company also wisely included a zydeco-flavored version of "Busted Up," a Slim song that Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson recorded for the upcoming Replacements benefit EP for Dunlap, which proved to be a nice touch and rounded out their lively set well.

A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
Photos By Erik Hess

The Fattenin' Frogs, led by the 4onthefloor's Chris Holm, injected plenty of soul and roots into the 'Mats material, augmented by the elegant voices of the three female backup singers. "I Will Dare" took on an extra bounce, while "Take Me to the Hospital" and "Bundle Up" were both drenched in an upbeat, dusty Americana sound that removed some of the ferocity of the originals, but didn't take away too much of their spirit.

It was clear at this point that some bands were taking chances and liberties with the Replacements' material, which is the point and process of any good tribute night. And in the end, some performances worked better than others. Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles brought a countrified twist to the 'Mats songs, and coming at the point in the evening when the crowd was getting a bit loose, their rather hushed interpretations didn't find much of a spark. Understated takes on "Sixteen Blue," "Androgynous," and "I Will Dare," while elegantly performed, lacked the fire that was needed as the night wore on.

Red Daughters also suffered from that same lack of intensity, as slowed down versions of "Can't Hardly Wait," "Sixteen Blue," and "Alex Chilton" simply meandered a bit. But at least the engaging band was keenly aware that they were taking some liberties with the songs, joking that "We've made a couple of revisions to these songs, and if you don't like it you can fill out a comment card at the back of the club." You have to give both Red Daughters and Lucy Michelle credit for trying something new and different with the overly familiar music of the 'Mats, even if it didn't fully resonate much in the end.

 

A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
Photo By Erik Hess

After a long wait in the Mainroom, the members of Pink Mink finally took to the stage along with Joe Hastings joining in on guitar. Dave Campbell strolled on stage dressed up as a cop, and picked up a megaphone to give the famous warning that launches the Stink E.P. "This is the Minneapolis police. The party is over." Their blistering run through of Stink launched with a breathless take on "Kid's Don't Follow," as Christy Hunt playfully greeted the crowd, "Hi everybody. We're Pink Stink!"

The Birthday Suits' Hideo Takahashi became the first of many guest vocalists during the wild set as he spiritedly sang "Fuck School," before Dillinger Four's Paddy Costello took over the mic for a untamed "Stuck In the Middle," and Gabe Douglas delivered an emphatic vocal take on "God Damn Job."

The surprise guests weren't quite done yet, not by a long shot. Martin Devaney came out to play the harmonica part while Hastings took over vocals on a raucous version of "White and Lazy," but it was the experimental closer "Gimme Noise" which drew the most attention of the set, as former Hüsker Dü bassist Greg Norton joined Gay Witch Abortion drummer Shawn Walker to set fire to our blog's namesake song. It was a truly special moment, and hopefully the rumors of Pink Mink releasing a recording of this performance proves to be true.

 

A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
Photos By Erik Hess

Eleganza didn't quite prove to be a rocking enough follow-up to Pink Mink's star-studded set, so most of the crowd waited for the start of the Melismatics-led finale, a straight run-through of the Replacements' classic fifth full-length, Pleased To Meet Me. The band were tight and well-rehearsed right from the get go, handling the big riffs of the record as well as the more understated subtleties of some of the songs. After Ryan and Pony Smith handled lead vocals on the tempestuous opener "I.O.U.," the steady stream of guest vocalists quickly followed, as Eric Pollard delivered an ardent take on "Alex Chilton" and Martin Devaney filled in spectacularly for an ailing Dave T. Nelson on "I Don't Know."

Lucy Michelle fared much better on the loungey swing of "Nightclub Jitters," with Mark Wade deftly switching to stand-up bass while the saxophone part was expertly handled by one of the Belfast Cowboys crew. John Swardson admirably tackled the intensity of "The Ledge," before the running order of the record was interrupted by the playful inclusion of one of the album's B-sides, "Birthday Gal." Phantom Tails' Orion Treon delivered an impassioned take of "Never Mind," while Eleganza's Brain Vanderwerf clutched his PBR tight throughout his pulsing version of "Valentine."

Gabe Douglas gave himself up fully to an untamed rendition of "Shooting Dirty Pool," while Pink Mink's Arzu Gokcen appropriately brought a glass of vino out with her during her take of "Red Red Wine." While the band got things sorted before the next number, the Hold Steady's Craig Finn strolled out onto the stage, making some humorous small talk while the group got ready. "What do you guys want to talk about?" But Finn injected plenty of warmth and sincerity into his vocals during a moving version of "Skyway," which was augmented by the Velvet Lapelles' Eamonn McLain's mournful cello. The graceful, glorious number proved to be one of the night's clear highlights.

A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
A Tribute to the Replacements at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, 11/23/12
Photos By Erik Hess

Curtiss A then took to the mic while a four-piece horn section from the Belfast Cowboys joined a two-piece string section led by McLain for the anthemic album closer "Can't Hardly Wait." After the band left the stage, Campbell returned to speak to the crowd roaring their approval. "You can't really follow that, but y'all want to hear one more song, don't you?" And as we cheered, the Melismatics returned to emphatically close down the night with a venomous take of "Bastards of Young" which put the final exclamation point on a great tribute to the Replacements as well as a heartwarming fundraiser for the great Slim Dunlap.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I've been a big fan of the 'Mats since middle-school, and I try to never miss one of these wonderful tribute shows to them, which just get better every year.

The Crowd: A nice mix of old school scenesters and younger fans, as well as local musicians at every turn.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Can I buy you a drink?" "Do you want a drink?" "Let's get more drinks."

Random Notebook Dump: From the moment when I read Craig Finn's tweet about him being happy to be in town for the tribute, I was hoping he would make a guest appearance at the show. But I never expected him to sing "Skyway." It was a truly wonderful version, and gave me yet one more reason to fucking love Minneapolis.


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