Even before The Hold Steady made Craig Finn an indie favorite, there was a certain maniacal cult-band fervor around their precursor, Minneapolis' own Lifter Puller. And for good reason: all the noir strangeness, localized detail, intricate storytelling and arch referential humor that made The Hold Steady popular in the '00s was present in Lifter Puller during the '90s, to such a huge extent that Wikipedia's entry for "Lifter Puller Folklore" is actually larger than the one devoted to the band itself. Why, then, is there almost no live footage of the band on YouTube?
Maybe it's a rights issue or something, but for a band that everyone claims to have seen live at some point -- including but not limited to that legendary, Triple Rock-christening reunion set back in 2003 (which I was at, swear to god) -- the visual evidence of Lifter Puller's heyday is pretty scarce. Most of the results for 'em on YouTube pull up fan-made videos, including this bizarre tribute to "Nassau Coliseum" consisting pretty much entirely of imageboard memes and this production from some students at Hopkins High School -- but there's one fascinating exception. It's a noisy, largely obstructed but unmistakable clip of the original lineup performing The Entertainment and Arts EP selection "The Candy Machine and My Girlfriend"... on a riverboat. This gig, which I think might be from sometime around summer 1998 (though I can't be positive), was part of a double bill with Dillinger Four, who set up a Mississippi River booze cruise to celebrate the release of Midwestern Songs of the Americas. It's a shame there's not a better shot of the band or their surroundings -- seriously! It's Lifter Puller! On a riverboat! In 1998! -- but I'm grateful there's this much, at least.