If Sleater-Kinney is only the second best concert of 2015 so far, who could possibly be beating them? The Replacements. At a venue that I hate no less. Because that’s how good the Replacements are.
Unfortunately this show conflicted with Those Darlins (who thankfully are coming back to DC with Shakey Graves this fall) and was at Echostage (boo, hiss!). I got there early enough to secure a spot in the second row and was surrounded by a crowd of largely very obnoxious old people. I had to pull the rare reverse ear plugs trick: ear plugs in between sets to drown out all high-pitched, loud banter around me that was starting to give me a headache and took them out during the loud, punk rock band. It worked quite well. The only benefit of the old people is that this was a no moshing zone.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business kicked things off. I’d never heard of them but they were amazing and I would go out of my way to see them again. It was interesting southern rock, alternating guitar and piano leads. It was as if a piano protégé in Tennessee grew up obsessed with Lynyrd Skynyrd. The combination worked marvelously. It was a totally different style than the Replacements but the energy was the same so it fit well.
I was giddy when I finally saw the Replacements play at ACL last year. In retrospect, that set was horrible compared to this show. The energy was way higher. The intensity was greater. They were having fun. Everything in the music – the vocals, the guitar hooks, EVERYTHING – sounded sharper. This was vintage Replacements. The set was ~30 songs. They kicked things off with “Takin’ a Ride.” They threw in covers. The climax at the end of the set was a string of songs including “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Bastards of Young” that would be near impossible for any other band to top. They saved “Alex Chilton” for a six-song encore ending with “I.O.U.”
There are a still a few months left in 2015, but this show is going to be really hard to beat.