MATS WEEK: When The Sh*t Hits The Fans

EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of the re-activated Replacements playing the Festival Pier on Saturday, we’re re-running Mats Week. Look for Replacements lore and legend all week on a Phawker near you!

On September 5, 1981, the Replacements played a 25-song set at the Minneapolis club called the 7th Street Entry, opening for Husker Du as part of a Twin/Tone Records showcase that was recorded and videotaped. (You can watch them HERE) This show took place just a couple weeks after the Replacements released their first album, Sorry Ma Forgot to Take Out the Trash. That was back when they were a punk band, albeit one that occasionally played ballads and country standards, wrote songs with smart lyrics and melodies, and sang at least part of the time (instead of merely shouting). These videos look and sound great. The band is impossibly young with short hair, and they play their early material with energy and recklessness. Tommy is about 14 but looks about 12. Despite his age he still pounds out bass lines like a pro. The set is non-stop balls-to-the-wall energy, speed, and awesomeness. Most of the 25 songs are no longer than 2 minutes and are from Sorry Ma… and Stink (1982). However, the videos contain four punk-style originals that were not included on the early LPs–Skip It, Junior’s Got a Gun, D.E.A.D., and Staples In Her Stomach. The set includes three covers–Maybelline, Slow Down, and Hey Good Lookin’. The band also seems sober, and compared to what would come later, it’s a rather tame, well-behaved Mats show in that they play all the songs from beginning to end. This was before they got into the habit of drunkenly lurching from one partial cover to another in their live shows, a la The Shit Hits the Fans. (Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.) Plus, they don’t fight or argue, and Bob is present for all songs and fully clothed. Go figure! Chris Mars was as surprised as anyone to find this footage a couple years ago. “What struck me most was Paul’s distinct voice and delivery, along with Bob’s insane guitar style and stage presence,” he wrote. “It occurred to me that our strength was as a damned good little punk band. In my mind, that could quite possibly have been our peak.” Considering the dearth of Mats publicly available concert footage, these videos are awesome. Fuckin’ A! — MIKE WALSH