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First Avenue

First Avenue's 35th Anniversary Show:
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 playing there.

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 night.

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...

RATING: ***** 3 out of 5 stars


First Avenue, Minneapolis

 VIEW a photo slideshow from the event

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