First Avenue's 35th Anniversary
Live at First Avenue in Minneapolis
Written by: Corey Tate
35 years is a long time to be in business for a night
club. For any business, really, but especially a nightclub.
First Avenue has weathered a number of storms
and always made it through. It was only a few years
ago when we all thought the place was going to close
for good, it was all locked up, City Pages was writing
about its demise, and everybody thought it was the
end of an era. But soon the news came through that
an agreement had been made with the owners of the
club to bring their conflict into resolution. And
then the doors opened again.
First Avenue is one of the best landmarks
in Minneapolis. It's probably the most signifigant
musical landmark in the city, with its roots in the
Minneapolis heyday of the eighties, Purple
Rain, literally every cool band you've known in the
past twenty years has played there or thought about
So when they recently celebrated their 35th anniversary
with a show, lots of local talent was on hand. The
mainroom lineup was The Jayhawks, The Hold
Steady, Koalas, Jessy Greene, Polara,
X-Boys, The Mood Swings, Mike Watt,
and members of Golden Smog. The sideclub the
7th Street Entry featured Rifle Sport,
Aesma Daeva, The Mighty Mofos, and Curtiss
A. Even DJ's Kevin Cole and Roy Freedom
were on hand in the mainroom to bring back the days
of yore with songs played in between sets.
There were photo slideshows all night long in between
bands, even on the groovy new flat panel wide screen
TV's that now flank each side of the stage. There
were photos from all sorts of people who had been
there over the years: Husker Du, Tina and
the B-Sides (she got more coverage than anyone),
and countless more.
One of the highlights of the evening was when many
people joined Mike Watt onstage to play Iggy
Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog (see above photo).
Craig Finn of the Hold Steady sang while
Watt played bass, Ed Ackerson and Craig
Jarret played guitar. The sound was deafening,
the energy was immense, and the effect was huge. Everyone
in the audience was dumbfounded.
The Jayhawks played a great set of songs from most
of their albums. The Hold Steady played another rock
solid set of songs from Separation Sunday with lots
of manic hand clapping from Craig Finn. Golden Smog
was there with partial membership, but Craig Jarret
and Dan Murphy were onboard. Polara played a smooth
and slicked out jetset of songs under dark icey blue
lights. Even Lori Barbero (formerly of Babes in Toyland)
showed up with her new band Koalas to wrap up the
All in all a good night. Lots of music, lots of people,
lots of liquor. Hopefully it'll happen every 5 years
for years to come...