First Avenue's 20 best concerts: The complete list

Categories: Lists
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17. Pulp, First Avenue, 5/26/96
It's stunning how much the nattily dressed Jarvis Cocker expressed with his legs during this performance. The Pulp frontman thrilled a lively, combative crowd while leading his band through a set that pulled heavily from the near-perfect Different Class album. While every Britpop fan at the time (including myself) was wasting far too much breath on Oasis, this was the band that exceeded what little stateside hype they'd earned. One woman in the crowd was either trying to flirt with Cocker, or just make a scene. Either way, she repeatedly lambasted him for the commentary found in "Common People." And, proving his deftness once again, he sidestepped it all and suggested they discuss the matter afterward. And a not-so-humble brag to those who are shelling out to see Pulp in reunion mode right now, note that this show was $5! --Reed Fischer
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16. Erykah Badu, First Avenue, 4/30/97
Erykah Badu's debut release Baduizm had not yet received much play on mainstream radio ahead of her first full U.S. tour, but the club was still packed that night. For a change, the sweet-scented swirls of smoke weren't coming from the crowd -- Ms. Badu had filled the stage with incense, tapestries, and floor lamps with colored bulbs, which were the requisite trappings of a neo-soul session back then. She captivated us with the drawl-tinged octaves of her voice so much that even her between-song lectures in Egyptian numerology and African spirituality were met with air toasts to the stage. The jazzy/blues from the record translated perfectly with a full band, a rarity at R&B shows of the era. She mostly stuck to tracks from Baduizm, but when she introduced the unreleased "Tyrone," we seemed especially connected as we we sang the chorus and, when instructed by the true diva, pointed at our "third eyes." --Rachel Lee Joyce
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15. PJ Harvey, First Avenue, 10/01/04 
While PJ Harvey's 2004 album Uh Huh Her didn't quite match Mercury Prize-winning Stories From the City..., her First Avenue tour stop in support of that record was memerizing. In a full-length red velvet gown and matching gloves, Polly Jean tore through her stellar catalog while confidently delivering performances of "Dress," "Good Fortune," "50 Ft. Queenie," and "Meet Ze Monsta." Harvey was also still wailing away on her guitar, this being the era before her eventual foray into the stark piano and harp-laden arrangements of her current work. --Erik Thompson
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