First Avenue's 20 best concerts: #10-1

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10. Basement Jaxx, First Avenue, 10/08/01
Basement Jaxx's first appearance in Minneapolis was at the old Quest Club shortly after their seminal Remedy release in 1999, and although it was a stormer of a show, it was only a DJ set. A few years later in October of 2001, the two U.K. blokes came through the Twin Cities again, this time at First Avenue for a live performance of their sophomore release, Rooty, complete with tribal dancers, fire, and live instrumental elements. The show -- and that album -- marked a vulnerable yet fun year in dance music's history, both locally and abroad, as less than a year later the RAVE act would swoop in and suffocate the most creative part of the scene. But at least for this memorable night, everyone was celebrating. --Jen Boyles
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9. Pavement/ Wilco/The Dirty Three, First Avenue, 05/26/95 
There are some headlining sets that are so good that no matter who the openers are, you can't remember much about their performances. That is clearly the case with Pavement's riveting Mainroom show in 1995. Wilco were there in support of their just-released debut, A.M., along with frequent Nick Cave collaborators the Dirty Three, while Pavement were touring behind their brilliant new record Wowee Zowee. As with all of Pavement's live performances, this was a splendidly shambolic show that drew generously from all three of their stellar LPs. The band members were still getting along relatively well at this point, which gave their underdog anthems an irresistible slacker spirit that the college-age crowd clearly identified with. "Rattled By the Rush," indeed. --Erik Thompson
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8. The Fugees/the Roots/Goodie Mob, First Avenue, 11/96
Three of the era's biggest acts hit the road on a small-club tour to rave reviews, but First Avenue was the high point as each crew wanted to out-rock each other in the house that Prince built. The Fugees headlined, and it just as "Killing Me Softly" was about to repeat on pop radio. This was Lauryn Hill at her best. Her voice boomed off the walls as Wyclef Jean cemented himself as a true performer and, oh yeah, Pras was in there somewhere. The Roots were on-point creatively, and fresh with their live band and impromptu jam session. Black Thought did covers of Wu-Tang and impersonated each member perfectly. You swore he was magically channeling Ghostface. But no doubt this new group from Atlanta had everyone talking: Goodie Mob stole the show with a high-energy charismatic performance. Cee-Lo rapping his full verse on "Goodie Bag" brought the house down. People who were in attendance knew this was a special night and knew something like this would never happen again. As Khujo starting throwing buckets of fried chicken into the audience as an encore, we were all celebrating this golden show during this golden era of hip hop. --Lars Larson
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7. Rhymesayers Entertainment 10th Anniversary Show, First Avenue, 7/22/05
Like an early Motown Records revue, not one group was the headliner. Instead, it was the whole label, or in this case, a whole city and movement. Rhymesayers celebrating their 10th anniversary was a "we arrived"-type moment and the crowd knew it as well. From the early days in the Entry to cats, vans, bags across the country, it was time to cut the cake and drop the balloons. The venue was packed to the doors and stifling hot. But the fire came from the stage as the show was fast-paced with no downtime or lull and every act from Atmosphere to Musab brought its A game with short, powerful sets. Los Nativos charged the crowd in full headdress and war paint attire and new labelmates P.O.S and Mac Lethal proved they belonged. Everyone got stage time, even a real MF Doom managed to show up, and you know it's a special night when that happens. --Lars Larson


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18 comments
Mark B
Mark B

Obviously "top 20" being a matter of taste -- some of my faves:  New Order (early 80's), the Cure (~1983), Teenage Fanclub (mid 90s), Ride with Lush, Charlatans with Dandy Warhols (!!), Happy Mondays, Prince, Jesse Johnson (remember him?), Air, Paul Weller.   Also saw a couple listed in the article -- fave was early U2 gig -- got pictures of that one.

Yeah, First Ave.'s the place to be before the bands get big and stadium sized (or fade away).  Lots of great shows and memories (hazy though they may be).

Makes sense
Makes sense

Ghostland Observatory, 11/10.  The room seemed to levitate during Kick Clap Speaker.  

Raymond Albright
Raymond Albright

Four better concerts than any mentioned above:

Prince & the Time - "Dirty Mind" had just been released and Prince was in his full trenchcoat and thigh-high stockings for the whole show - unbelievable at the time for a Black performer to look and perform like he did.

Thomas Dolby - early '80's after "Golden Age of Wireless" had been released - he did all the songs - unforgettable.

Metric - "Fantasies" release tour - Emily Haines singing and dancing for almost two hours - incredible entertainment.

The Crystal Method - just about two years ago on a Sunday night - if techno was God, I saw God that night - truly the best concert I've ever seen at First Avenue.

Dirkherb
Dirkherb

The Samples, David Byrne and Golden Smog are among my favorites.

Mike Riehle
Mike Riehle

I was busy being born the day the #1 show went down, but for my money, Nine Inch Nails w/ Meat Beat Manifesto more than made up for it.

Hank Fralee
Hank Fralee

"Hip-hop went from the cartoony plumage of Grandmaster Flash to the hardcore gangster attitude of Ice-T and PE."

just an awful sentence. PE, hardcore gangsta?

"With Griff and the hard-stepping of the Nation of Islam soldiers, Chuck D and Flavor Flav stepping so hard that it was bouncing Terminator X's turntables. "

Nation of Islam soldiers? The Security of the First World/S1Ws who were Fruit of Islam

heyslackass
heyslackass

To try to limit it to twenty shows is impossible. In my own history I could name 20 shows I thought were better. Pearl Jam, Afghan Whigs, Soul Asylum, Big Country, Sunny Day Real Estate, Sugar, Bob Mould, The Cult,The Cramps,Swervedriver,Neds atomic dustbin,Ice t with body count,808 state,Live for a Rev 104 show. Buffalo Tom when Grant hart joined them and wouldn't leave. The Twilight Sad.ETC. The place is such a great venue that any night  you could walk in catch a band that caputures the moment of where they are and just blows the roof of the dump. And that's magic of First Ave.

Nomadyroc
Nomadyroc

 Yeah pretty predictable, and a bit homer, but I sill love ya. Phish & Widespread Panic are still two of the biggest & best acts in live music, and both had a handfull of shows at my favorite venue. Didnt want to loose your indie cred?????????

Zinovy
Zinovy

fIREHOSE w/ The Feelies in 1990 or 91.  The Feelies were headlining.  There was some spat going on between the two bands and fIREHOSE, already known for their great live shows, kicked it up a notch, trying to bury The Feelies.   Watt broke 2 bass strings because he was playing with such fire...and yes, The Feelies couldn't live up.

Also, Soul Asylum w/ Arcwelder, July 3rd, 1990 was great tool

Russneis
Russneis

Foo fighters somewhat secret show before the one by one album was great for a big time rock band to play in a small venue

Zinovy
Zinovy

Wilco 6/29/01 & 6/30/01.   These were special shows for a couple of reasons.  Wilco wasn't on tour. They just played these two shows and one at Summerfest in Milwaukee.  Weeks prior to the show, Tweedy told fans to download the un-released Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and judging by the crowd singing every word to the YHF songs, the crowd followed Tweedy's instructions.  Also, because they were not on tour, these shows had a unusual looseness to them.  These were also Jay Bennett's last shows with the band and his was kicked out after their next show in Milwaukee.  Footage of these shows can be seen in the film, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart."

buggaboo
buggaboo

It seems like a pretty predictable list, and maybe that's just the way it goes. But with few exceptions, it's "Before they were big, they played at First Ave!"

Gerbilbazooka
Gerbilbazooka

Was not at any of those but I will say that the Ting Tings show 2 weeks ago was freaking awesome!

Machelle Moen
Machelle Moen

I enjoyed reading about first ave.'s past it is great

PutSomeRanchOnIt
PutSomeRanchOnIt

"Clear the way for the S - the S1Ws!"

PE were still fucking awesome when I saw them in 1999 at First Ave.

Danny
Danny

those were great shows indeed (although not my all-time favorite Wilco shows at First Ave).

just fwiw, only footage of the second night appears in IATTBYH

Zinovy
Zinovy

 I actually liked the Summerteeth shows better, but the 01 shows were memorable for the reasons I mentioned.

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