Playing the role of Mills Lane tonight will be the Twin Cities current favorite son, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.
History: Both bands were born in response to the American punk rock movement. The ‘Mats gained a reputation for a fast, sloppy sound that could be topped only by their now legendary drinking habits. The Hüskers were at one point the fastest band in America—as their sound developed they separated themselves from their peers on a combination of Mould’s driving guitar and the contrasting songwriting of Bob and Grant. The Replacements slowly cleaned up their sound committing to the perfect compromise of clean and sloppy on Let It Be before signing to Warner Bros. and releasing, among other things, my namesake. Hüsker Dü hit their peak around the same time, releasing Zen Arcade, New Day Rising, and Flip Your Wig in a span of two years before also signing with Warner.
Why they fight: Circumstance alone would suggest at least a rivalry: they start at about the same time, rise, sign to major labels—obviously there was going to be conflict. And we have some colorful characters here, especially earlier on when Bob Stinson was in the mix. The ‘Mats had the song Something To Dü on Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash: “Delivering noise/Real tough boys/What else have I got/Half-priced drugs/Stolen guitars/What else is new/It's somethin to dü” plus the last line of the song: “breaking the Mould.” And while Hart and Mould downplayed the tension between the two bands in All Over But The Shouting, they also didn’t shy away from taking a couple shots at the ‘Mats. So some bitterness is still there. And now they’re going to battle it out. My original vision of this fight was beneath a 494 bridge, but I thought we’d settle this on the skyway.
Who wins: Now I know that Paul is drinking O’Douls these days, but I’ve decided to take some creative license and have Paul and Tommy showing up completely shit faced. The fight begins as the two hoodrats throw their whiskey bottles at Mould and Hart who quickly avoid the shots and begin their attack. They come out swinging on all cylinders. Faster than their days on SST. And The Replacements can do nothing. It quickly comes to the attention of Craig Finn and the rest of the crowd that Paul and Tommy are simply too drunk to fight. All they can do is sing bits and pieces of random bubble gum hits and REM songs ala The Shit Hits The Fans. No one is really sure what to do. Bob Stinson is calling down from heaven for the other members of the band to intervene but Chris Mars is too busy painting a portrait of Greg Norton (that mustache!) and Slim Dunlap is just sitting there with his characteristic sense of complete apathy. The beating continues until Mould and Hart stop out of courtesy. They walk away from the experience confused as Paul and Tommy set themselves up. Grinning. Spitting blood. Looking like they just had the time of their lives.
On the card for tomorrow we have Stevie Wonder vs. Ray Charles…
Aw geez. No.
Let’s do The Stooges vs. The MC5. Street fight. Anything goes.
I’m pretty sure I’ve punched my ticket to hell with that one.