'Takin' A Ride' to 'Where It's At'

So, unlike Taryn, I’m not good at summaries. But I’m going to do my best to sum up our last day at Forecastle (Sunday July 20th). We started our day off catching the last part of Matrimony’s set at the Mast Stage. They were scheduled right before Lucius, and we were both eager to see their set. Matrimony was interesting, they’re a newer band, so I don’t think they have a lot of martial out yet, but I’ll be interested to see where they go. Lucius was adorable and put on a great show. After Lucius, we headed over to the Boom Stage, where I was eager to see finally Trampled by Turtles. Their set wasn’t until 4:45pm, so we caught the last two-thirds of Sharon Van Etten. I was completely unfamiliar with her songs, they all sounded dark and depressing. And to top it off, she and her band were all dressed in black (I can’t imagine how they survived in the July heat in those colors!). But despite the dreary atmosphere of her music and clothing choices, she had some of the funniest stage banter I’ve ever heard.

Trampled by Turtles came up next and they put on a great performance. As their show went on, we started to notice the crowd getting larger. Eventually, we came to realize it was in anticipation of Nickel Creek, who were coming up at 6:30pm. Taryn and I are probably the only two music fans on the planet who don’t care one way or the other about Nickel Creek. We were completely unaware of them until their recent reunion, and we’ve had multiple opportunities to see them over the last few months, but what stops them from being a “unicorn band/artist” like Dwight Yoakam (or previously Moon Taxi), is that we still don’t know any of their songs. Plus, once I saw the schedule and how close they were too conflicting with the main reason I was even there, The Replacements, I figured what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. Why listen to a band and possibly get excited about them, only to be upset that I’d miss them, AGAIN? So after Turtles was over, we escaped through the crowd and hit the Jenny Lewis show; which turned out to be soooo worth it. She is now my latest girl crush. Her spunk, her gorgeous outfit, and he upbeat set were just what we needed during the waning hours of Sunday afternoon. And the girls from Lucius must have felt the same way because I more than once spotted them in the crowd enjoying Jenny’s performance as well!

The Replacements

Finally, at 7:45pm, the moment I’d been waiting for arrived: The Replacements! They were everything I dreamed of, and then some. I can’t explain properly just how much this band and their music means to me. I was not around for their heydays in the 80s, but I feel in love with them at the perfect time. I discovered them when I was an angsty teenager in high school. Their music was just the right amount of melodramatic teenage “woe is me” and dark, biting humor. Plus, they relished their “give no fucks," bad boy image. I can still remember the spring semester of my junior year of high school, where I bootlegged their songs off of Limewire and would read about their exploits in various punk music biographies or fond reminisces from people twice my age on music themed message boards. Every retelling of one of their concerts evoked a kind of boozy, hazy, anarchistic glory. They sounded like the perfect unknown, yet highly influential Indie 80s band. Over time, I grew to love them for more than their legend, but for their beautiful pop-punk music. Their album Tim owned me the summer of 2006. They grew to be one of my top ten favorite bands, and their masterpiece, Tim, one of my top ten favorite albums.

Seeing The Replacements live was indeed, a dream come true. I never in my wildest fantasies, ever believed that I’d have an opportunity to see them live. Heck, I never thought they’d get back together! I hoped that maybe one day I could see former lead singer Paul Westerberg live, but I never entertained the notion that I’d get a chance to see The Replacements. They featured ‘special guest’ Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, and while I am not a fan of Green Day or Armstrong, it was still cool because I know what kind of influence Westerberg and The Replacements must have had for him growing up. So it was probably a dream come true for Armstrong to play with them, much like it was for me to see them reunited on stage.

Westerberg and company have always been famous for their ruckus performances, and it was a blessing finally to see one live. Westerberg kicked things off at the start of their set by introducing them as a Replacements cover band. At one point, he was in the floor on his back playing the harmonica. He took the time during an excellent version of “Androgynous” to literally sit down in front of the drum set as he sang. And right as he kicked into “Can't Hardly Wait," his microphone stand fell down and Armstrong graciously came over to help lift it back up (Westerberg was so thankful he even kissed him, which cracked me up). My inner-seventeen year old was overwhelmed by the end of their set. I literally had tears in my eyes when they started playing fan favorites “Left of the Dial” and “Alex Chilton” back to back. This is the stuff my teenage dreams were made of, and at twenty-five, they had become a beautiful reality.

I made much of the face that Jack White played 30 minutes over during his set the night before. Beck, the Sunday headliner, was scheduled to hit the stage at 9:45pm and The Replacements were supposed to be over by 9pm, but the boys from Minneapolis rocked on until about 9:20pm. I figured this meant that Beck would be late in coming on since there was so little time between sets. Plus, Taryn and I had talked about this for months, we were anticipating a mellow, chill set from Beck since his latest album (Morning Phase, released this past winter) was very much of that vein. After seeing The Replacements, I was completely satisfied and knew the rocking was over for the evening. I was ready for the chill, acoustic set I figured Beck was about to deliver. Taryn and I even joked about how Beck was probably going to sing us to sleep (we didn’t mean this in a bad way, but in that way we all have happily fallen asleep to a Pink Floyd album or something). Right before he came on the stage, I literally told Taryn that I was expecting him to push his new album rather heavily (since that’s what most artists do when they have a new album to promote) and to close with his hits “Loser” and “Where It’s At."

That’s not what happened at all. I was anticipating him to open with a low-key song, as his latest single “Blue Moon”, but instead he literally jumped out and started things off with an old school rocker of his, “Devil’s Haircut." He blew all our expectations right out of the water. He had the crowd in his hands from the start, and he never let go.

To quote Taryn: “Beck melted our faces off.”

He kept the hype going the whole damn night. He didn’t slowdown once, even rocking up his new, slower songs “Blue Moon” and “Waking Light." And like Mr White the night before, he even found time to throw in some cover snippets in there. He had the whole crowd singing on cue to parts of songs by Busta Rhymes, Michael Jackson, and The Rolling Stones, as well as his famous hits like “Think I’m in Love," “Loser," “Girl”, and “E-Pro”. We were even given a hilarious spoken word treatment to the song “Debra” before he launched into an epic, near ten-minute version of “Where It’s At” to close out the night. He jumped around, rapped, sang, and jammed on his guitar (at one point he jammed on his knees, almost in the floor!) with the gusto of a man half his age. He exerted so much energy on stage that was hard to believe he’s over 40 (the LIE!). Oh, and he sported the cutest, dorkiest hat. Pharell Williams wishes he could be so fly! ;)

Beck didn’t just melt our faces off, he was a joy and wonder to behold. I honestly was not very familiar with him or his music, apart from the radio hits, before seeing him. I was not prepared for the onslaught of awesome that he delivered. Given the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd, I doubt anyone else was either. He was the biggest surprise for us at Forecastle. I knew he’d put on a good show, but not the great one he gave us. Best festival closer ever and a fantastic end to one of the best festival experiences we’ve ever had.

A good way to sum up the entire Forecastle experience for us might come from a fellow festival attendee who was staying at our hotel. As the three of us were waiting for our hotel shuttle to pick us up after the festival had ended, we naturally talked about the highlights of the festival for us. The gentleman we spoke to was in his mid-50s and told us about the many different concerts and festivals he’s been to over the years, and he concluded that this was, in fact, one of the best festival experiences of his life. I know we had a terrific time, but so did a guy with three times the live music experience! If that’s not an incentive to keep coming back every year, I don’t know what is.