The Pen is mightier than the sword. That’s what they say. Now I’ve never seen a sword, and I don’t know much about armory, but who in the indie-rock world is mightier with the pen than Craig Finn?
Craig Finn and his backing band, the Uptown Controllers played an intimate and powerful show at the Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on October 17. The Hold-Steady leader, and prolific lyricist rattled off nearly an hour and a half of his solo-work to a room of dedicated and literary-inclined fans.
A story, a tidbit about the past, a joke, often punctuated each song or lead seamlessly into the next track. Finn reflected on such heady topics as: fear, faith, love, pain, loss, and finally honesty. “We have to be honest with one another,” was his response to the insanity that seems to found itself into society today.
As if he was an author, reading off pages of his latest work, Finn and his band strummed coolly through several tracks off his latest album, “We All Want the Same Things.” Some crowd favorites were “Jester and June,” “Preludes,” and a solo-acoustic performance of “Tangletown” that was especially emotionally hard-hitting.
Finn made eye contact with every member of the crowd, and would interact in banter with folks about baseball, books, and politics. It was the most transparent show I’ve seen all year.
With an artist as skilled with the pen as Craig Finn, each word hangs on the one before it. Each line anticipates the next. I found myself listening to the songs like reading a book I didn’t want to put down.
Craig Finn can be explosive with his singing and performing, or he can be subtle and thoughtful. During his performance at the Record Bar, he was both, in equal parts, for maximum effect. The show didn’t feel overly folksy, but definitely didn’t feel like a regular rock show. Imagine Bob Dylan in Greenwich, Neil Young in Tennessee. Craig Finn in Kansas City.