Those who caught the Replacements at ACL Fest last Sunday were treated to a blitzkrieg of the band at their best. Cramming 19 great songs into an hourlong set on the Samsung Galaxy stage, they delivered nothing but great music, sans nearly all of the antics that made them ’80s underground legends.
Though they started with blazing versions of “Alex Chilton” and “Left of the Dial,” two favorites that closed the set a week ago, by song three, Westerberg was in the hammock, somehow getting through the early rocker “I’m in Trouble” while lounging uncomfortably (with the help of a crew member holding the microphone).
All bets were off the rest of the way, though mostly for the better. A stab at Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” went a little haywire, but a cover of Texas outlaw-country songwriter Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever” was a classic moment that hit home with local fans. Drummer Josh Freese also made a nod to the city’s musical lore by sporting a Daniel Johnston T-shirt.
About half the set consisted of different material than last week’s show. Sure-fire crowd-pleasers such as “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Valentine” and “Kiss Me on the Bus” returned, but the band dug deeper for the likes of “I Don’t Know,” “Color Me Impressed” and the grand-statement set-closer “Unsatisfied,” for which Westerberg donned a twelve-string guitar that he smashed at the end.
Ultimately it was the hammock-centric moments that defined the performance. Westerberg returned to the prone position for the ramshackle ballad “If Only You Were Lonely,” and remained there for the definitive number “I Will Dare,” with bassist Tommy Stinson joining him in the hammock halfway through. They struggled to keep playing but made it through the song, finally rolling out onto the stage together at the end and laughing hard through it all. “We’re just trying this out for Europe, you see,” Westerberg explained.
They acknowledged that they were aware a lot of folks up front were there to see the headling band on after them. After asking for requests and hearing various shouts from the crowd, Stinson observed: “Your lips look like they’re saying Pearl Jam. But we get our minute first.”