The name of Craig Finn’s new band, the Uptown Controllers, does indeed come from that quasi-legendary and totally ridiculous Craigslist ad for a “Playstation 4 Controller That May Have Been Used By Craig Finn,” placed in 2015 by local comic Justin Colucci, who also provided City Pages with a wild (and spurious) origin story for the device.
“I saw it as a bit of divine intervention,” Finn says. “We needed a name. The rest of that claim after the Replacements show is obviously (I hope!) fiction.”
Finn’s history in Minneapolis is long, storied, and well documented: Lifter Puller (LFTR PLLR) provided a distinctive, post-punk/indie-rock soundtrack for Finn’s tales of a lost generation of Lake Street-wandering Gen Xers, and New York City’s Hold Steady took those stories world-wide with hard rock swagger. This week, he brought his latest project, which evokes the more stripped-down indie of his early career, but more grown up, to St. Paul for a Wednesday gig at the Turf Club. Tonight, he’ll make the long, arduous haul across the river to play Triple Rock Social Club, where he and the rest of Lifter Puller baptized the stage on its opening night back in 2003.
“I have amazing memories of that first weekend at the Triple Rock when Lifter Puller played three shows to open it up,” Finn says. “These were reunion shows, and people came from all over to see them. It was fun to see Erik and Gretchen [Funk], very good friends, building something that would be so important to the music scene and a ton of people I love. It was obviously going to be a great venue.”
Although Finn’s early 2000’s expatriation to New York City meant he didn’t get to absorb nearly as many of the thousands of shows at the Triple Rock as the rest of us, he has fond memories of playing it in all his projects. However, it’s telling that Finn, a guy whose career has been spinning stories of kids lost in the places they inhabit, particularly favors this one: “[When] LFTR PLLR came back and played the D4th 21st Birthday show. I got up on the roof during Against Me’s set and had a blast watching the crowd and looking around the city. Once again I marveled at what Gretchen and Erik had built, and how they were able to pull a bunch of national acts together, who all jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”
Tonight, Finn gets one last chance (unless something totally crazy happens) to grace the Triple Rock stage before it closes in late November. With such a long connection between himself and the venue, expect not just a show, but one piece of what feels like a multipart Irish wake for the world’s only punk social club. But it’s not the building alone that Finn’s going to be toasting.
“I think it’s important to remember that it was the people who made the magic there, not the structure,” Finn says. “From the top down, the staff was always friendly and efficient, and they simply cared a lot. That goes a long long way. That is the spirit that seems to me to live on everywhere in the Twin Cities scene, and what makes it such a great place for music. The Triple Rock was loved on a national and international scale, and will be greatly missed.”
With: John K. Samson
Where: Triple Rock Social Club
When: 9 p.m. Fri. Oct. 20
Tickets: Sold out; more info here