Lifter Puller, RIP

Lifter Puller was special. In this Age of Irony, they were a knock-you-down, lay-it-on-the-line, dare-to-be-great band. They weren't cutesy. There were no novelty songs, no cheesy covers. And no nasally, whiny, white-boy vocals - which seem to be everywhere in indie rock these days. It was so goddamn refreshing to see and hear a band that was passionate, dangerous, edgy; applying old-school rock moves (anthems, sweat, glory) instead of settling for being ironic or recycled or tongue-in-cheek.

Their albums and EP were soundtracks to movies that should be made. Through the maze of parties and bars and raves and drug deals and things-gone-bad, we encountered namechecks of (among many others) LL Cool J and Two Live Crew and the Beatles and the Gang of Four and Springsteen and Sabbath. The images flew by in that fury of great guitars-aided-by-keyboards music; you'd find yourself hitting the replay button, asking "did he really sing that?" More than once I had been guilty of quoting their lyrics ad nauseum to friends. More than once I threw around again and again the phrase "you shoulda been there" when describing one of their shows. The friends who gave the band a listen became converts.

The live shows weren't just appearances, each one was like some final stand ... settle this right now motherfucker. Their aura was undercut with a goofball sense of humor - aided by acrobatics, theatrics, finger-pointing, dancing, jumps off stage. And that was just their guitarist. But the whole band played with a certainty, there wasn't any throwaway moments. As a friend of mine said: "They give a shit every single second."

Like that show at the 400 when their bass player was sick so they brought on a substitute bassist - who proceed to "play" their whole set while seemingly passed out on the stage, clutching a bass guitar. Or that time when their guitarist stripped to his skivvies. That show in the Entry where some precious indie band opened and tried to tear the house down and Lifter Puller picked up the challenge and totally kicked their asses and all of ours out in the crowd. Those times when the show ended with "Half Dead and Dynamite," the guitarist hanging upside down from the pipes above the Entry stage.

Yeah, you're probably saying, guess you had to be there. And I was - dammit was I lucky. Thank you, Lifter Puller, for everything.

[Back to Exiled #25] [Back to Exiled on Main Street] [Other Writing] [Poetry] [Contact Bill Tuomala]