concert memoirs pt. 10 – the replacements

The Replacements w/Laughing Stock
7/1/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

“Someone put ice in his tea.” That’s the reason Paul Westerberg gave for why The Replacements were there that night and not Robyn Hitchcock. Robyn Hitchcock was scheduled, but he didn’t play. We weren’t too upset, though, because it gave us another chance to see the legends.

You will recall the first time John and I saw The Replacements (First Avenue 9/5/84) John had some minor panic issues. This time John and I stood up front and caught the entire show. No panic attacks.

Allow me to digress for a moment, the opening act, Laughing Stock, was a fairly decent local band. They had a little of the REM influence, but a lot of bands did in those days. Laughing Stock was lead by a fellow named Jim Walsh. Jim Walsh has gone on to be a music (among other things) journalist.

He has recently published ‘The Replacements: All over but the shouting – an oral history’. Jim put together various people’s recollections about one of the most important bands in rock history. It’s a good read, especially for fans and those interested in that era of the Minneapolis music scene.

One point made over and over in the book was that the band could be phenomenal in concert. However, they could just as likely be shit. Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) said that if you saw them ten times, you might see one good show and nine lousy ones.

Well, I can’t say this was a great show, but it wasn’t awful. They weren’t falling down drunk or anything, but they took their time between songs. They appeared to not have a playlist, so they would pause after each song and look at each other trying to figure out what to play next. This didn’t help build any momentum through the show.

It also lead to another problem. Several members of the audience took those pauses as their cue to call out for their favorite ‘Mats tune. One doofus standing right next to me kept calling out, “Go!” It’s possible that he was admonishing the band for their lackadaisical pacing, but I’m fairly certain he meant the song from their second release, ‘Stink’.

One humorous moment that I recall from that show occurred when some audience member called out, “Tommy’s got a boner!” (As you know, the actual song title is ‘Gary’s Got A Boner’ from their album ‘Let It Be’.) Paul heard the shout, gave us a “He does?” look, and walked over to Tommy Stinson. He moved Tommy’s bass away to get a better look. I couldn’t tell if Tommy had a boner or not and Paul didn’t say.

So, John and I saw The Replacements twice. We didn’t get stellar shows, but they weren’t awful. I think the reason we didn’t go see them after the second time was that we weren’t as impressed with their shows as we were with their albums. They were an important band and I’m glad I saw them.

YouTube has a concert they did in the 7th Street Entry on 9/5/81. That’s exactly three years before John and I first saw them play. That concert shows them at their best. They go a little out of tune, but that was their style. Here’s the link to the first part of the 16 part series Check it out. It’s great.

concert memoirs pt. 9 – violent femmes & fleshtones

Violent Femmes w/Summer of Love

6/17/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

The bright spot of the night was being able to see that interesting woman who played the cello for Summer of Love. Not exactly a crush, I just thought she was interesting.

The Violent Femmes killed any interest I had for the rest of the evening. To be fair the audience was most responsible for ruining the evening, but the Violent Femmes did their part, too.

They had a couple albums out at that time. Albums that suggested angst, anger, sexual frustration, and some weird Jesus thing. But, their stage presence was a different story. Much different.

So, the Violent Femmes are from our neighboring state, Wisconsin. And First Avenue was packed to gills with Wisconsinites. The main floor was packed. The upstairs was packed. The stairs were packed. The restrooms were probably packed. God damn! It was packed with rubes.

The Violent Femmes finally take the stage to the most tumultuous, resounding applause. The kind of cheering I heard after The Who had completed their outstanding show (St. Paul Civic Center 10/2/82). These guys hadn’t done anything yet and they were treated like rock gods.

John and I had been to a few shows by that time and we had come to expect a little something more for our five bucks. It took more than merely showing up to impress us. John shouted, “Make them earn it!” Unfortunately, the rubes couldn’t hear him.

The Femmes began to play and John and I firgured we should give them a chance. We had paid five bucks, after all. Each song was greeted and sent away with uproarious cheering. John and I did a bit of eye-rolling that night.

After a couple songs, they played some song that had something to do with a flamingo. The bird. The chorus made note of the fact that flamingos stand on one foot. What did these clever rock stars do when they sang the chorus? They stood on one foot! In fact, at one point two of the band members each reached their airborne foot toward the other and touched their feet together.

Holy crap! I swear the rubes all wet their pants. It was so stupid. What a bunch of rubes.

So, then they played into their song ‘Please Do Not Go’ and when they got to the “bye, bye, bye-bye, bye-bye” part the rubes all waved and sang along. We had had enough. We waved bye-bye and left.

Fleshtones w/The Go-Betweens
6/24/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

I remember this being a really fun show. The Fleshtones were having a ball playing to us and we were right there with them. Their lead singer scaled atop the speaker stack and sang and danced at us from on high. Very dangerous and very cool.

In the crowd with us was Larry (I don’t remember his last name) the lead singer of local bar band Urban Guerrillas. The Urban Guerrillas were a very fun band themselves. I’ll write about them later. There is scant information about them on the internet, so I had better add some.

concert memoirs pt. 8 – husker du, u2 & husker du

Husker Du w/Laughing Stock

1/30/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

This was the first of five times that John and I would see this band. We were still not quite ready to join the slam dancing, so we stayed toward the back to observe the craziness. I don’t think it was as violent as the X concert (First Avenue 10/15/84), but according to the MN Daily (the University of Minnesota’s newspaper) it was “loud, fast and furious”.

I was able to consult the MN Daily review (dated 2/1/85 by Steven Perlstein) of the show because of the magic of the internet. The internet is so handy. The reason I wanted to see that review is because I wanted to see if my memory was serving me.

The main thing I recall of that concert is something my art school friend, Gene, did. Gene was quite the committed punk. He had the mohawk and the leather and the boots. And he loved slam dancing and stage diving.

We, John and I and the rest of the art school gang, had been going to the Cabooze for a while by this time. The Cabooze was another Minneapolis club that booked some cool acts in those days. The old art school gang would head down there to see The Urban Guerrillas frequently. The Urban Guerillas were a local favorite that played their own unusual blend of punk, ska, reggae and whatever. We would slam dance to those guys, but it was a more gentle style of slam dancing. And the Cabooze would let people stage dive, while First Avenue wouldn’t.

I’ll write more about The Urban Guerillas later on in this blog series.

Anyway, Gene was at the Husker Du show with Eric, another art school friend, and possibly a couple others whom I can’t remember. When the Huskers took the stage, Gene and his group were at the opposite side of the main floor from John and me. The band just started into it’s first song when Gene (quoting the Daily review) “provided a poignant argument against drugs by leaping onstage, dancing for about 15 seconds, and doing a Greg Louganis-like swan dive into the crowd. What fun.” It was a beautiful stage dive. Gene put his all into it and I’m sure it would have received all 10’s from the judges. Had there been any.

My memory serves! In my outline notes for this series, I had written about the Daily article and had quoted “Greg Louganis-like swan dive”. After 23 years, I still remembered that review. I did, however, spell Louganis wrong.

Gene disappeared after the dive. He had no sooner gotten back to his feet when the First Avenue security staff grabbed him and said, “You’re out, pal!” Gene was booted from the club. He should have waited until later in the show to do his dive, so he wouldn’t have missed the whole thing.

To set the record straight, Gene was not on drugs when he pulled his stunt. He was on the punk rock.

3/19/85 Minneapolis Auditorium w/John & Gene Ticket Price: $13.00

I’m not sure if John And I actually sat with Gene at this show, but he did give us a ride there. I think his seats were elsewhere. At least, John and I got to ride in his way cool Jeep.

U2 were just starting their climb to superstardom. They put on a great show. At one point, Bono asked if anyone in the audience could play guitar. They found some kid and got him onstage to play along with the band for one song. It must have been awfully thrilling and nerve-racking for the kid.

Bono did all his Bono theatrics. He grabbed a baby spot light to shine at the crowd, he wrapped himself in the Irish flag, he walked on water. You know, his usual stuff.

Husker Du w/Die Kreuzen & Process Blue
6/12/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Let me just say this right away… Die Kreuzen sucked! Sucked! Sucked! Sucked! They played some brand of crappy metal, hardcore slop. The lead singer couldn’t keep the microphone anywhere near his mouth for more than three seconds at a time. They were boring!

So, there I stood, leaning against the front of the stage, chin in my hand as this lousy band actually managed to slow the passage of time. A young woman, obviously a fan of this dreadfully, awful band, noticed my state of absolute boredom. She gave me a sarcastic “poor baby” look. I refrained from giving her any reaction.

Well, Die Kreuzen finally finished making noise and dragged their talentless asses of the stage. The stench of their horrific appearance was still evident as Husker Du took the stage to clear the air. Interestingly enough, the gal who was unsympathetic of my plight had disappeared once the truly talented headliners began to play.

This was our second time seeing Husker Du and John and I were ready for the slam dancing. It was a blast. Knocking around in the pit, getting aggression out without doing any serious damage to anyone.

My friend, David, had brought a date to a Husker Du concert once. She hadn’t heard of the band before and when she saw them she said they looked like garbage men. Possibly, but what talented garbage men.

concert memoirs pt. 7 – x, the church, red hot chili peppers, general public & let’s active

X w/Soul Asylum

10/15/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Another show at the famed First Avenue. We were still getting a hang of the place. We were looking forward to seeing Soul Asylum, a local band that had some good buzz. John had heard they did a cover of Sex Pistols’ ‘Bodies’, but they didn’t play it that night.

John remembers some fellow in the crowd shouting, “Loud Fast Rules!” Which, of course, was Soul Asylum’s original name.

What I remember is Dave Pirner having difficulty with his guitar strings. He kept breaking them. Normally, musicians play through a string break, but, for some reason, Dave couldn’t do that. He would stop and hand the guitar to the tech and wait for it to be restrung or for another guitar. And the rest of the band stopped playing. It made things appear very amateurish.

That’s how I remember it, anyway.

John and I planted ourselves at the side of the stage and stood on the first level up from the main floor. We were very close to the front, close enough to see behind the screen to watch the folks setting up the stage.

We were at Billy Zoom’s side of the stage. He took his spot behind the still lowered screen, while a couple of gals were peeking under it to catch a glimpse of the stylish guitarist. He would playfully slip the toe his boot out toward them and give the girls a thrill.

We were still a little leery of the slam dancing, so we didn’t venture onto the main floor. This turned out to be a smart decision. As John reminded me, it was a very violent crowd. We had a couple of punks jump past us just to join the scrum. They nearly sent us flying in order to get to the pit.

X was tight and rockin’. I didn’t know much of their stuff, but it was cool to see them.

The Church w/Summer of Love
11/14/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

This was my 20th birthday and I didn’t even try to get in free.

You will probably notice that many of the early shows that we attended found me awfully ignorant of a lot of the bands’ music. This was mainly because John and I were just finding these bands, buying some of their stuff and then going to see them right away. After some time we’d learned a lot more about the bands we were seeing. Especially those bands that we would see several times.

The Church is a good example of one of those bands. What I knew of The Church was the song ‘Electric Lash’ and some of their album ‘Remote Luxury’. John bought that album after asking the record store manager about them. She told us that they were “one of your best new wave bands.”


Well, they were very good live. I seem to recall that there was an extra guitarist with the group. Every time that we’d seen them since it was just the four members of the band.

I didn’t know much of what I was hearing, but it didn’t matter. Their material was so good that I liked it immediately. Some bands can do that, but they are rare.

The one thing I remember about Summer of Love, the opening act, is that I was intrigued by the very pretty woman who played the cello.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
11/21/84 First Avenue w/John & Kelly Ticket Price: $2.00

This was waaaay before that annoying, incredibly overplayed Bridge song.

John picked up their first album because it was produced by one of our guitar heroes, Andy Gill. It’s an odd little album and I really dig ‘True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes’. Very funky.

John and I brought our friend, Kelly, along to this one. I’m not sure why. It was a good thing we did though, because the club was pretty empty that night. The Peppers needed all the audience they could get.

I recall Anthony Kiedis saying that the critics thought the band was a joke. “That’s because we are a joke!” was he proud response. Aim for those stars, Anthony!

We hung in there for a few songs and left. I’m not sure if they wore shirts. Probably not.

General Public
11/22/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.50

John knew this band better than I, but I still enjoyed the show. They played a mix of their current stuff and some of their old English Beat material. General Public was formed by at least two of the members of English Beat, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling.

Ranking Roger was sporting that striped hairdo and hopping all over the stage. The audience was doing a bit of hopping, too. They really got hopping when General Public played ‘Save It For Later’, the big hit for English Beat.

Let’s Active
11/26/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Here’s one of those shows that brings nothing to mind other than I think it was in the 7th Street Entry. It’s not that they weren’t a good band, I just don’t remember anything.

concert memoirs pt. 6 – the replacements

The Replacements w/The Slickee Boys
9/5/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $2.50

This is a big one. This was the first time John and I stepped foot in the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue. The month before my friend Paul and I attempted to get in to see The Suburbs. It was sold out, so my first time would have to wait.

How to describe the first time taking in this institution? It was very big, very dank, very dark, and very cool. We’d heard stories about the place. Heard that it had a weird crowd. That men would hit on us.

The crowd wasn’t that weird. Some punks, new wavers, goths, club chicks, but mostly just pretty ordinary-looking people. That is one of the best things about First Avenue, there’s no one sort of crowd. A variety of folks would show up and a good percentage were ok. And I don’t remember any men hitting on us.

First Avenue would soon become the best place for us to see concerts. You will notice that as this series continues that the vast majority of the shows we saw we saw at First Avenue. You can get a good view of the bands and the sound was very good. And First Avenue was always booking excellent acts in those days. Things have changed since then, First Avenue has more competition now and the scene is different.

We sat against the wall along the 7th St. Entry side of the club (That seating area is gone now and has been for years.) for the opening act, The Slickee Boys. I never heard of them before. Their set was pretty brash and loud, but not otherwise memorable.

The Slickee Boys finished up, the big screen lowered, and everyone began to prepare for the critics’ darlings, The Replacements. John and I joined the crowd in front of the stage. Our anticipation was building when…

John had a little freak out.

Maybe it was the fact that he smoked too many cigarettes, maybe it was the growing crowd, maybe it was the bigness of the moment. I don’t know. But John needed space. He felt like he was about to pass out. So, we moved off to the side of the stage where he could get some air.

This was very unusual for John. In fact, I was the one with the history of panic attacks.

The Replacements took the stage. They played. I don’t remember much.

I know what you might be thinking. You might be thinking that I was drunk and that’s why the details about many of these shows are so fuzzy or missing. That is not the case. I didn’t do much drinking at First Avenue ever. That was the place that I went to to see bands and to dance. My heavy drinking was done elsewhere.

Now, The Replacements, on the other hand, were quite often drunk during their sets. However, as I said, I don’t have much else to tell.

I think Bob Stinson wore a dress.