First Avenue's 20 best concerts: The complete list

Categories: Lists
Photo by Steve Cohen
14. Lucinda Williams, First Avenue, 7/17/01
Lucinda Williams hit the mainstream sometime between the long gestation of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road in 1998 and her relatively quick 2001 follow-up, Essence. As her visibility grew, she'd accepted higher profile gigs such as touring with Tom Petty, which included a show just across the street at Target Center in 1999. By the time she returned to the relatively intimate First Avenue Mainroom in '01, Lucinda and her audience were ready to re-connect with these songs of heartbreak and pain in a way not possible in large arenas. In September 2009, she came back to share her joy with Minneapolis by getting married on the same stage. --Steve Cohen

13. Marilyn Manson, First Avenue, 10/09/96 
At the time of this show, I was 15 years old, and had recently parted with a narrow and pinched childhood by becoming a goth. This rebellion was deflated a little by the fact that it was endorsed by my mother, who believed so deeply in broad-mindedness that she sprang for my ticket, fairly ruining the main thrill of it. The show was magnificent, but the venue captivated me the most. Its soul was stranger and more beguiling to me even than Manson's, and though my affair with Manson's music, torrid as it was, proved fleeting, my affair with First Avenue has seemed star-crossed from the first. --David Hansen
Photo by Steve Cohen
12. The Flops/ Dan Wilson & Friends/ Semisonic/ 3/4 Trip Shakespeare 12/12-13/03
This was a reunion of the many branches of Trip Shakespeare that emerged since the beloved psychedelic/power-pop group disbanded in the early '90s. Matt Wilson and John Munson performed as the Flops (and together have since morphed into the Twilight Hours). Munson and Dan Wilson's Semisonic had grown into a worldwide success, but their days were winding down as Dan's solo project began to take shape. Both Semisonic and Dan & Friends performed sets. With Trip drummer Elaine Harris absent, Semisonic's drummer (and acclaimed author) Jacob Slichter filled in with the rest of the original group to round out the night with a set of Trip Shakespeare classics. Everyone got a little history lesson, but also a chance to shake around a bit. --Steve Cohen

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