On January 21 I saw Bash & Pop with the So So Glos at the Great Scott in Boston, MA, a small-bar venue with a sound system that’s just shitty enough to be charming. I’d seen the So So Glos before and loved them - they’re a fun, snarky NYC punk band, and I talked about them in a previous concert review here. They’re probably about 68% of the reason why I went to this show.
Bash & Pop had their own unique draw for me, though. This was Tommy Stinson’s band - Tommy Stinson of Replacements fame. The Replacements were before my time - they broke up just a month before I was born - and Stinson’s Bash & Pop formed in 1992 and broke up in 1994 - just before I could have a memory. Nonetheless, over the years I’ve become a big Replacements fan, especially after reading the Replacements biography Trouble Boys by Bob Mehr. They were known for absolutely awesome and absolutely awful live shows, depending on how much they had to drink that night. Either way, these live shows were supposedly legendary, but for me they were only legends.
Thus, when I heard that Bash & Pop was coming back in 2016 - with a totally new lineup, but with Stinson still at the helm - I had to see them live, even if the now 50-year-old Stinson was just a shadow of those legendary shows. At 25 I was by far the youngest one there (these were all Replacements fans, after all), but minutes after I got there, a big hairy man in a black leather jacket complimented me on my Titus Andronicus hoodie.
I had never seen the Great Scott that crowded - the show was sold out, and I had to accept that I was going to be gently pressed up against drunk dads for the rest of the night. The So So Glos were great as always, but I think I was the only one who knew the lyrics. Midway through the show, I watched two old men start to tell each other off (“What the fuck you say??”) with one of the guy’s girlfriends saying, “Ugh, Jake, can you please take this outside?” I didn’t see them for the rest of the show after that. In many ways, seeing two old men fighting before the show even started was the exact thing I signed up for when I bought this Bash & Pop ticket.
Tommy Stinson and his band in matching brown suits didn’t take the stage until 11pm, and I think I was the only one in the room yawning. I felt really young and really old at the same time.
For the first half of the show, the band was only okay, which was about what I expected. Their 1993 album Friday Night Is Killing Me is a pretty middle-of-the-road rock side project, and it’s pretty impressive that their 2016 album Anything Could Happen sounds like it could have been Disc 2 of Friday Night Is Killing Me. They played all their songs straight, to the point that you could close your eyes and think you were hearing the studio recording, which for me is not a compliment.
Then Stinson said, “You know...A whiskey on the rocks would be really nice right now. Realll nice.” Within minutes, Stinson had four glasses of whiskey at his feet. Drinking those whiskeys the rest of the night, the band suddenly sounded incredible. They got louder, they started jamming, and I actually believed what Stinson was singing. Stinson was suddenly hilarious and charming: In between a song he said with a whiskey in his hand, “Tomorrow my daughter and I are celebrating her birthday in New York. We’re going bowling!” Meanwhile, a mom standing next to me got completely shitfaced and yelled “I LOVE YOU!!!”
It was a beautiful moment where good ol’ rock n roll lived on - but probably so did 50-year-old Stinson’s alcoholism - and it was a moment where I definitely did not belong. Stinson refused to play any Replacements songs, but nonetheless I’m sure everyone around me had a chance to go back in time, while I could only see the afterglow of an aging punk whose flame dwindled on.