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

Categories: Lists
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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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