1. I'm not a fan of huge outdoor music festivals. I've been spoiled by shows in clubs and theaters, so the idea of milling about with tens of thousands of people in a place vulnerable to the elements, standing on my tiptoes to get a brief glimpse of the bands, isn't my idea of a good time.
2. The Replacements are my all-time favorite band.
So when it was announced that the two primary (living) members of The Replacements — singer-guitarist Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson — would be reuniting to play their first shows together in 22 years, it was kind of a no-brainer for me to get in on the action.
Despite reports that the band had turned down more lucrative offers to play bigger festivals (i.e., Coachella and the like), The Mats decided to go with the smaller, more grassroots Riot Fest. A traveling carnival of a music festival (rides! wrestling! fire performers!), Riot Fest made three stops — Toronto, Chicago, and Denver — with varying lineups in each city. I managed to make it to the Chicago and Denver dates over the last two weekends, and I couldn't be happier I did.
The Replacements delivered, period. They were as ferocious a live act as they'd ever been, and perhaps just as importantly, they were clearly having a great time, goofing on each other (e.g., Westerberg's crack about Tommy Stinson playing in Van Halen — he's actually a current member of Guns N' Roses) and wearing matching Western shirts, skirts, and cowboy hats at the Denver date. Expectations for these shows was high and, save for one cranky, off-base music critic, no one seemed at all disappointed. The Replacements are still the best damn band on the planet.
Oh, yeah. A ton of other bands played, too. I caught great sets by Guided by Voices, Superchunk, Blondie, Flag, Best Coast, The Dismemberment Plan ... far too many to name here.
I also got my first taste of what's it's like to be in the photo pit at a big show. (I could get very used to it.) So, after the jump, here are some photos I took at the Denver stop — with additional Replacements photos courtesy of ©J. Dennis Thomas, who you can find at jdt-photo.com.