The 4th of July has a lot of connotations, but in my own world, I always remember that it’s the day the Replacements broke up. On July 4th, 1991, the Replacements played a show in Grant Park in Chicago. At this point, the version of the band that shambled into the park were half of what they used to be. Founding member Bob Stinson had been given the boot in 1986 and drummer Chris Mars, after being scarcely used on the Replacements’ 1990 album All Shook Down, had taken off as well. So the Replacements were half-full of, well, replacements. Slim Dunlap had taken over as lead guitarist on tour for 1987’s Pleased to Meet Me and the late Steve Foley had taken over as tour drummer following Mars’ departure. So it would seem that what turned out to be their final show wouldn’t be much of a thing to document.

That’s the thing. I’ll be honest. I became a Replacements fan in high school and was always sort of luke warm about All Shook Down. There’s a reason, of course. Even though I didn’t totally know at the time, the album has a grand total of one song that features all four members of the band. It has become, in a lot of ways, to be referred to as Paul Westerberg’s first solo record. That’s not totally off the mark, but the record has grown on me a lot over the years. The biggest reason is because of the bootleg sent to me on cassette in the mid 90s.

When I started my first internet email account in the mid 90s – at Hotmail, naturally – I wanted the email address “matsfan – at – hotmail dot com.” When I tried to get it, it was taken. I cursed myself silently, but then realized that if it was taken, then most likely, it was taken by a fan of the Replacements. So after establishing another email address taken from another favorite band of mine (redacted), I sent an email to ‘matsfan’ to see if, in fact, they were a fan of the ‘Mats.

Turns out they were. A man in his early 30s at the time who seemed truly excited that someone so young was into the Replacements. He asked for my address and said he’d send me a few bootlegs and mix tapes of the band to help me in my nascent fandom. He didn’t lie. A few weeks later came tapes of the famous ’86 bootleg of the Hoboken, New Jersey show from the Tim tour – a blisteringly awesome show that is still worth hunting down if you’re a fan – a mix tape of rarities and a show from Massachuttsetts of their infamous turn in ’89 opening for Tom Petty, and a bootleg of the ’91 final show in Chicago. While all of these tapes were fantastic (and if ‘matsfan at hotmail’ is out there and remembers sending a teenage kid in North Carolina these tapes, please email me so I can say thank you), it was the final show that ending up having the biggest impact on me.

Why? Simple. The band was on fire. Yes, one-half of the band’s founding members were missing. Yes, the show was comprised mostly of songs from All Shook Down and very few of the classics. But it didn’t matter. The songs from All Shook Down lept to life in a way that I would have never expected. “Bent out of Shape,” “Happy Town,” “One Wink at a Time,” “Someone Take the Wheel” and others all took on a propulsive, raucous energy that had been lacking in the studio takes. That studio album has grown on me over time as I’ve aged and mellowed, but I have no doubt that I might not have given it those important second listens if it hadn’t been for this bootleg. The defeated, sarcastic and harsh banter of Westerberg and Tommy Stinson during the set only adds to the loose, ‘couldn’t care less’ tone of the energetic set.

By the time their usual live cover of the Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet” kicks in, the set is about to break apart. From there on, All Shook Down gives way to Hank Williams Sr. (“Hey Good Lookin'”), Don’t Tell a Soul, Pleased to Meet Me and Hootenanny. This last album is where the bootleg gets its name – “It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Roadies Play.” The last song of the set was the band’s ramshackle opening and title track from 1983’s Hootenanny. Much as the band had done in Blackberry Way studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota – when separated from the sight of the producer, the band had switched instruments and played the title track with what can generously be described as inept competence – the band members, one by one, departed the stage and let their respective roadies replace them on stage. And that, as they say, was that.

For fans of the band, the last show is a tremendously sharp and outstanding way to go out. Yes, it’s missing some certifiable classics – no “Bastards of Young” or “Left of the Dial,” let alone “Alex Chilton” or “Unsatisfied” – but it’s still a remarkably together band going through its paces one last time. That alone is worth a listen. words/ j neas

Download: The Replacements :: Live @ Grant Park, Chicago July 4, 1991

Track List:
1. “I Will Dare”
2. “Bent Out of Shape”
3. “Achin’ to Be”
4. “Merry Go Round”
5. “Happy Town”
6. “Swinging Party”
7. “One Wink at a Time”
8. “Waitress in the Sky”
9. “When It Began”
10. “Someone Take the Wheel”
11. “Talent Show”
12. “Nobody”
13. “Another Girl, Another Planet”
14. “Hey Good Lookin'”
15. “I’ll Be You”
16. “I Don’t Know”
17. “Within Your Reach”
18. “Can’t Hardly Wait”
19. “Hootenanny”

Related: The Replacements :: Shit, Shower & Shave (1989)
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28 Responses to “The Replacements :: Live @ Grant Park, Chicago, July 4, 1991”

  1. my first/last mats show!

  2. Many thanks!
    Now, how about that Tim era live boot?

  3. My copy of that Tim boot is still, sadly, only on cassette, Darnell, but if you want to try and find it, it’s the February 4th, 1986 show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey. This is Bob Stinson-era band firing on all cylinders and just tearing the place apart – a few choice covers and a pre-PTMM version of “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Really worth tracking down. The links aren’t active anymore, but here’s a post from Pop Headwound a couple of years ago if you want to read more about it:

    http://popheadwound.blogspot.com/2010/02/livebootleg-replacements-maxwells.html

  4. J.Neas – You’re killing, er murdering, me man! I want that bootleg!

  5. Mats/Maxwells/1986 Here it is…

    http://symphonyofghosts.blogspot.com/2010/02/replacements-maniac-live-1986.html

  6. Awesome review / summary from an obviously hard-core fan. Just downloaded & gotta say I’m very psyched to listen – the Replacements are one of those classic acts that I’ve always meant to really check out and have never gotten around to, so this feels like the perfect opportunity.

  7. thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you… and counting

  8. Can’t hardly wait to listen to this one! (I’m at work at the moment…)

  9. you guys are the best!!!!! MATS!!!!!!!!!!

  10. the magic of google brings you the Maxwell’s show from ’86 (yes, the links are still active, just grabbed it myself):
    http://symphonyofghosts.blogspot.com/2010/02/replacements-maniac-live-1986.html

  11. Brian & all, here’s the links:

    Disc 1: http://www.mediafire.com/?zhn5lqueyii

    Disc 2: http://www.mediafire.com/?4dyzizwnjtg

    Crank it up!

  12. Thanks, very cool. I was there and was a pretty big fan at the time, but that said it was probably the right time to call it quits and move on to other things.

  13. I miss the mats bad

  14. Great post. Perfect timing, too, cause I just finished reading Michael Azzerad’s essential Our Band Could Be Your Life and although he does a thorough job with the other dozen bands and their careers from roughly ’80 to ’90, he completely drops the ball on the Mats.

    Basically, Azzerad just recites a few well known besotted Mats live stories and then ends with the release of Let It Be and Bob’s martyrdom. The End. ???????

    He completely omits the existence of Tim and gives passing reference to PTMM and doesn’t even name Don’t Tell a Soul and All Shook Down (all of which fell into his literary timeline) and then has the gall to say that the Mats never lived up to their potential.

    W…T….F?

    An unforgivable critical lacuna, just embarrassing,

    Dan

  15. P.S. All Over But the Shouting is also a fun, little read, but unfortunately it lacked real band participation.

    When will the definitive Mats book come out?

    Dan

  16. [...] Listen to the last Replacements show ever. (Aquarium [...]

  17. There is supposed to be a new Mats book written by a guy named Bob Mehr that will be released next year. It’s titled Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements. Azerrad’s book, which I loved, was, for better or worse, focused on the time those bands spent on independent labels. That would explain why he gave short shrift to the band’s post-Let It Be output.

  18. Saw them three times on that tour: Athens, Atlanta, Savannah. Tommy muffs it on this recording, but the scream he would let out at the end of “Someone Take the Wheel” gave me chills. I still remember it almost 20 years later. They kicked ass till the end.

  19. This guy has a ton of great Replacements recordings, among others
    http://teenagedogsintrouble.blogspot.com/

  20. [...] Get a 1991 Replacements bootleg.  You can never have too much of Mr. Westerberg. [...]

  21. Hi – would love to hear the mat’s maniac discs, but the account is suspended – do any of you lovely people out there have any alternative links? tried to see them a couple of times in London, but each time the gig was cancelled – at least this way I can get a taste.
    great site!

  22. Yeh, I just had the same “suspended account” problem at mediafire. Does anyone have an alternative suggestion? If so, thanks.

  23. [...] July 4, 1991 in Chicago, the Replacements played their final show ever, ending their run as one of the most celebrated (if not most commercially successful) alt rock [...]

  24. [...] Via Aquarium Drunkard: [...]

  25. [...] Download: The Replacements – It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Fat Roadies Plays [...]

  26. I find this sentence hilarious:
    “While all of these tapes were fantastic (and if ‘matsfan at hotmail’ is out there and remembers sending a teenage kid in North Carolina these tapes, please email me so I can say thank you),”

    You could email him since you have his email address again. :-)

    Thanks for uploading the bootleg!
    I only started listening to The Mats a few years ago. It’s kind of exciting that bands that I never expect to see are reforming. I’d love to go to Riot Fest – the only time Guided by Voices came to Australia, I was overseas.

  27. Like many others, I was at this show as well. Simply outstanding. Being able to relive this show listening to this download is absolutely great. Thanks so much for making this available. This show was simulcast by WXRT in Chicago. I had a recording of the simulcast I played the hell out of until someone stole the damn thing. This is a great replacement. Thanks again.

  28. its always funny how the number of people who attended a bands last show grows over the years…….but I was at that last show too, honestly. It was a hot sunny day and remember waiting for the band for what seemed an eternity. Once they showed,
    all I remember is blurred, I kick myself for too many drinks on a hot day.

    I do remember Paul saying something about this being the last show ever,
    but just thought it was one of his soon forgotten rants or whatever. I met Terri Hemmert of WXRT that day- I think Los Lobos was one of the opening bands. Chicago had a great music scene back then, this show was open seating which meant first come- best choice of seats. I got there early with drinks in tow,
    Thank you for this memory, I look forward to listening and maybe reliving.

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