I have forever changed the name of my “Lightning” reviews to “Thunder” reviews. If you don’t know why, you should buy some Replacements albums.
I was almost 16, had the Don’t Tell a Soul album dubbed on cassette from my college sophomore brother and was determined to get to see this band in Omaha. It was another hour’s drive past the pilgrimage to Lincoln, the capital. Lincoln had Football and the University of Nebraska. Omaha had Peony Park and according to the Sunday Omaha World Herald, Peony Park Ballroom was rock and roll Mecca.
<<Rewind a few years…
The first I had ever heard of the Replacements was from a cassette tape in my brother’s [READ: Dad’s] metallic blue Ford Grenada, in the parking lot of Soundwaves records and tapes in Grand Island, Nebraska. “IOU” came on and it took me no time to become a ‘Mats aficionado.
Imagine when my brother came home from college with a 12″ Replacements “Waitress in the Sky” promo single signed by the band – including a scrawled quote that said, “The dog took a crap.” I’m writing this from memory since mice ate that 12″ single a few years ago in a basement in Kansas City. However, those little rodents dined on some of the best music ever put to wax. Just like we did that night back in ’89.
I don’t remember many details about the show, frankly. I’m too old and the whole event exists in my brain more as a feeling than as a solid memory. From what I do recall, I was way too young to be there and thanks to the noble efforts of my brother, I was only intoxicated at the end of the concert. According to my recollection, The Replacements didn’t fare so well.
“Are they going to play ‘Bastards of Youth’?”
The girl that asked me that question was the object of my desires up until the moment she asked that question. I had kissed her on a late night jungle gym earlier that spring and was instantly smitten. She and a friend rode with us to the show, all the way from Grand Island, in the back seat. She just as quickly fell out of favor when she called the song ‘Bastards of Young‘ by the aforementioned, bungled name. At that point, I didn’t care if she rode on the roof on the way back. No room for error in Replacements fandom, my dear.
Back to the show: Peony Park Ballroom was tiny; the ceiling was low and my brother and I drank bourbons and smoked Camels. The Replacements were semi-coherent, perfectly sloppy, loud and absolutely as great as I thought they would be. At one point about 2/3 of the way through the show, a pizza sized tray of shots came out to the stage. They devoured them like, well, pizza. We roared in approval. Undoubtedly, we lit another smoke, got another drink and shouted every lyric as if we were in the band. A bit out of tune, but we meant every note. Just like the band itself.
The Replacements are legend. Kind of like thunder. Hard to explain but you sure know when you hear it. Especially when you’re a kid in the Peony Park Ballroom.