In my own backyard – where Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees – I was finally going to see the Mats. A band I’ve wanted to see since I first heard them left of the dial in the early 1980s.
Unlike the clusterfuck that was the Mumford and Sons show last year, this time the people at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium had their act together. There was a small GA section in front of the stage and the rest of the tickets were seated. And look whose seat was right behind the soundboard.
When you first entered the stadium there were food stands, a local bar stand, and City Winery had a stand. I got a bratwurst, some good wine, and I was good to go for the evening.
T-shirts – it wasn’t a warm night so most people were wearing sweaters. I did see two Replacements tees, two Ramones, one Black Keys, one Suicidal Tendencies, and one Cure.
Deer Tick’s set started while I was eating and I wasn’t in a big rush to see them. Lucero had been the first opener in Minneapolis and I was disappointed that they weren’t the openers in NYC. Plus, Deer Tick. A typical indie band with nothing really new to say. Singer John McCauley, guitarist Ian O’Neil, bassist Chris Ryan, drummer Dennis Ryan and keyboard player Rob Crowell also suffered from a small crowd and a bad sound mix.
Setlist via setlist.fm:
Standing at the Threshold
Born at Zero
The Dream’s in the Ditch
These Old Shoes (Superstition interlude)
Thyme (Addams Family theme intro)
Behind me were two young men who apparently knew everything about music and they did not stop talking. Although they knew everything and knew that they knew everything, they needed to still tell each other all they knew about everything music. So many times I bit my tongue – sometimes to correct them and other times just to tell them to shut up. Because their knowledge was so vast they needed to yell above the music during all three acts to continue imparting their knowledge on each other.
Thankfully, I could ignore enough to listen to The Hold Steady. They came out with guns blasting “Constructive Summer” and never let up. Craig Finn (lead singer) was so excited to be opening up for The Replacements – he told a story about a tennis court when he was 13 years old and another kid asked him who his favorite band was. Finn said it was The Ramones and the kid told him that if he liked The Ramones then he needed to check out The Replacements. So Finn bought Hootenanny and had another favorite band. And here he was full circle – on a tennis court in Forest Hills, the birthplace of The Ramones, opening for The Replacements.
By this time the stadium had filled up and people were filling in the ooohs and aaahs where needed and everyone was jumping for “Sequestered in Memphis.” And Finn along with Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka (bass), Bobby Drake (drums), and Steve Selvidge (guitar) were loving every minute of it.
Setlist via setlist.fm
Hot Soft Light
I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You
Sequestered in Memphis
You Can Make Him Like You
Stuck Between Stations
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
As “When You’re a Jet” was ending, The Replacements entered the stage. The crowd stood up and never sat back down. The beginning riff for every song drew a large roar. Everyone sang along and helped Paul Westerberg (singer/guitar), dressed in a yellow, black, and red jacket, yellow bowling shirt, red cropped pants, and stripped socks, with the lyrics when necessary. Tommy Stinson (bass), dressed in a nice blue checkered suit, told a story during the guitar change of why he missed the soundcheck. On the way to the Amtrak station he tripped on the sidewalk and his nose was bleeding. The Amtrak people said he broke his nose and wanted to call an ambulance. Tommy insisted he was okay. The ambulance EMTs told him he was pale and his nose was crooked. Tommy looked in the bathroom mirror and said, “I’m always pale. And my nose is always crooked and red and bulbous. I’m fine.” He caught the next train out.
Westerberg told a story about Keef high fiving him after a TV performance and saying, “Well, you gave it a shot.”
Like the old days, which I’m so sorry I missed, they played covers. I did see Westerberg solo at Irving Plaza once but the tallest man in the room stood right in front of me just as the show began. So I heard more Westerberg than saw him.
Joining Westerberg and Tommy on this tour are guitarist Dave Minehan and drummer Josh Freesh.
When told that they needed to be off the stage by 10pm (it’s a residential neighborhood) and they had 13 minutes, the band pumped through “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Bastards of Young,” “White and Lazy,” “Left of the Dial,” and “Alex Chilton” without stopping.
The Mats did not disappoint. This show was worth waiting for.
And I still want to have Paul Westerberg’s baby.
Setlist via setlist.fm
Takin a Ride
I’m in Trouble
Don’t Ask Why
I’ll Be You
Waitress in the Sky
Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out / Third Stone From the Sun (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Take Me Down to the Hospital
I Want You Back (The Jackson 5 cover – first verse and chorus only)
Color Me Impressed
Nowhere Is My Home
If Only You Were Lonely
Achin’ To Be
Kiss Me on the Bus
I Will Dare
Love You Till Friday
Maybellene (Chuck Berry cover)
Merry Go Round
All Shook Down
Love You in the Fall (Paul Westerberg song)
Can’t Hardly Wait
Bastards of Young
White and Lazy
Left of the Dial
By Carene Lydia Lopez