Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I met my friend Christian through work.  He was referred to our company through our mutual friend, Paul, and he started as a freelancer before shifting to a full time position.  I can’t pinpoint exactly how we became friends but I’m pretty sure that the story was pretty close to this: I walked by his desk while he had Spotify open, I “spotted” that he was listening to something that I liked, we started talking about music and we eventually ended up talking about our mutual love for a band called The Replacements.  It’s been rare for me to find other ‘Mats fans since The Replacements broke up in 1991 and they weren’t exactly the most popular band when they were together, especially outside of Minnesota.  The fans they do have love the band with a fervor that fans of very few other bands can  match.  It’s part of why Christian and I hit it off immediately and why he was able to seamlessly integrate himself into hanging out with my friend Jessica and me.  Our love for this under-appreciated band united us.

Unfortunately, Christian had to leave our company a couple of months after we had started hanging out because he and his wife decided to move closer to family as they were expecting their first child.  Jessica and I decided to throw him a low key going away get together at my place with just the three of us.  I supplied the food and Jessica supplied a hard to acquire beer as well as the entertainment for the night: a newly released documentary on our mutually loved band called Color Me Obsessed.  Dinner went well, the drink went even better, but unfortunately the documentary didn’t exactly meet our expectations.  While we were aware that the movie didn’t contain any music or interviews from the band, the weren’t in the state of the mind to sit through a couple of hours of people recollecting their intense feelings for this band.  We never finished the documentary, and to this day, Jessica refuses to pick it up from my place.

Christian kept in touch with us after the move, albeit on a limited basis, which was understandable since moving, starting a new job, and preparing to be a father for the first time is a lot to handle all at once.  The baby arrived a few months after the move and we were glad to see everything was working out for him.  A few months after the joyous birth of his son, it was announced that The Replacements would be getting back together for 3 shows.  Obviously, Jessica and I were ecstatic.  Christian was also excited that they were getting the band back together after 22 years, but had to respectfully rule himself out for any of the shows.

Jessica knew that she’d be going to at least one of the shows no matter what, but I couldn’t commit to going to one of these shows right away because going to any of these shows required purchasing a plane ticket, which obviously requires a bit of planning.  I finally relented after some coaxing from my girlfriend, and picked the cheapest and last available option, Denver.  During my deliberation, Jessica had decided on going to Chicago and Denver, and I was actually able to book the same exact flight as her.  We were both looking to make this trip as cheap as possible, so we agreed to get in and out of Denver in a little over 24 hours.  We would sleep in the airport or on the plane, if need be, but exploring Denver was a distant second priority to seeing the ‘Mats.

We arrived at the festival, about 45 minutes outside of Denver, and tried to come up with some sort of strategy for the day.  The lack of cell phone reception in this rural part of Colorado basically torpedoed any sort of way to communicate over any sort of distance, so there was a good hour and a half where Jessica and I were separated with no texts going through the airwaves.  I eventually found her after the Alkaline Trio had finished their set.  At that point, we decided that it would be best to stick together, and that we should just stick by this stage for The Replacements, sacrificing the opportunity to see other great bands, so we could have the best view possible for the one band that we travelled from California to see.

Sticking around this stage meant sticking around for AFI and their ravenous fans.  Some of the older Mats fans couldn’t stand AFI, but Jessica and I mostly braced ourselves for the crowd surfing, the shoving, and the typical insanity that usually follows this band.  I could’ve done without getting kicked in the head multiple times from various crowd surfers, but the end result was all worth it.  After AFI finished and their fans had dispersed for the exits, Jessica quickly rushed to the rail.  We had the best view possible for a band that I had been waiting my entire life to see.

The hour and a half plus that the band played for was pure bliss.  We got everything that we wanted and more.  The only downside was that Christian couldn’t have been there with us to see the ‘Mats playing his favorite songs, throwing lit cigarettes at each other, and stumbling around the stage as middle age men in ridiculous outfits.  Words could not do justice to what we saw and heard that night, and perhaps that’s why we soured on that documentary so quickly.  Words can’t do this band justice, The Replacements are a band that needs to be experienced, and hopefully one day we’ll reunite with Christian to see this band rise once again.

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