This Festival Could Be Your Life: The Replacements, Riot Fest

(Last weekend the reformed reunited Replacements gigged at Riot Fest in Chicago. AD's Marty Garner was there. The following is his report.)

I hope I’m not being presumptive about the kinds of things the average AD reader gets up to when I say that it’s probably been a while since you’ve been in a full-on mosh pit. It’s okay. It had been for me, too. But moments into Rancid’s exuberant set this Saturday evening, which fell roughly halfway through the three-day battle of Chicago’s Riot Fest, I felt the crowd push and pull like a great wave, and the gulf opened and then closed around me. At one point, pinched between two dudes big enough to beat up Lars Frederiksen, I felt my feet leave the ground. I was literally forced to dance.

It’s in this way that it only makes sense for The Replacements (The Replacements!) to have played their first U.S. show in 22 years at Riot Fest, the punk festival that graduated from the Chicago clubs and celebrated its second year in Humboldt Park by booking just about every band to grace the pages of Michael Azerrad’s seminal Our Band Could Be Your Life: Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma (with Shellac’s Bob Weston manipulating the sound), Keith Morris’ pigment-deprived Flag, Bob Mould sans Hüskers. There was even a serviceable D. Boon in bizarro Sublime frontman Rome. X was there, and so was Peter Hook, who wore a lime-green t-shirt and casually tossed “Ceremony” into his Joy Division set.

You don’t need me to tell you what the crowds were like at these shows. Head-bobbing, appreciative, a slight fog hanging over the area in front of the stage. After a downpour on Sunday morning, a huge gap formed around the mudhole that is usually a baseball diamond situated near the front of the Roots Stage, giving one middle-aged Mission of Burma fan the room to wild-out to “That’s When I Reached for My Revolver” like it was 1981. That gap filled up with Against Me! fans before Burma even finished tearing down. Meanwhile, across the park, an aging Mike Muir was leading a circle pit the size of an Olympic pool through a battery of Suicidal Tendencies oldies.

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