Comin’ out of the woodwork

Lifter Puller dust off their songs of the crazy night life

by Keri Carlson

Near 15th and Franklin is a club called the Nice Nice. Here, Night Club Dwight supplies Katrina, Juanita, Jenny and the raver kids with gallons of alcohol and distributes pills as if they were communion wafers. Hips are bruised from doing the bump. Lips are loose from slipping the tongue. Their motto: As long as the party’s outrageous, the night life will save us. Some stay long enough to toast the waking sun. Someone disappears with the Eyepatch Guy. Others wake up at the airport or the parking lot of Rainbow Foods or even back at good ol’ 15th and Franklin. And the very next night, it happens all over again in an endless cycle of parties, booze, drugs and sex.

This is the dark and seedy world imagined by Lifter Puller. But instead of glorifying the party scene like a John Hughes flick, Lifter Puller’s twisted tales of disillusioned young adults using the night life as compensation for emptiness are often compared to film noir.

Lead singer Craig Finn sputters rhymes, alliterations, metaphors and whatever other plays on words that surface during his rants while the band dishes jarring punches of jagged art-punk. The lyrical content, along with Finn’s unmistakable vocals, gives the songs a unique, dark humor.

“I wanted to write songs like a book or movie,” Finn said. “Most bands don’t try to write songs this way; they’re more personal Ö I want a whole story trying to explain something.”

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen, Finn goes one step further and creates characters and scenes (such as Katrina, Juanita and 15th and Franklin) that continuously pop up in other songs and albums. The songs, Finn says, became, “some sort of puzzle to draw people in.”

Unfortunately, after 2000’s “Fiestas Fiascos,” Lifter Puller broke up, just as they seemed to be on the cusp of mainstream success. “We always did really well in Minneapolis, but we received more attention right after the breakup,” Finn laughed. At reunion shows last August in New York and San Francisco, many fans came from all over the country, some to see the band for the first time.

“We only get back together for very special occasions.” To help old-time friend Erik Funk and the rest of the Triple Rock Social Club gang, Lifter Puller will play three nights in a row kicking off the opening of the Triple Rock’s new stage.

Despite being missing in action for three years, Lifter Puller still remains an important part of the local music scene. Stories of their concert on a riverboat and appearance on the Jenny Jones Show have become almost legends. The reunion shows will revisit the Nice Nice and catch up with Katrina and Jenny while keeping the mystique of Lifter Puller alive.

Lifter Puller with the Mountain Goats, 8 p.m. Friday, $10, 21+; with the Oranges, 8 p.m. Saturday, $10, 21+; with the Oranges, 5 p.m. Sunday, $10, all ages. Triple Rock Social Club, (612) 333-7399.