Top 10 Twin Cities clubs to see bands before they break big

Categories: Lists
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Photo By Erik Hess

Within some music circles in the Twin Cities (and beyond), dedicated fans frequently play a little game called "I saw them when," where the "winner" is the lucky one who saw a band play live first, typically at a small local club, before they went on to play bigger venues and enjoy more widespread appeal. We are truly fortunate to have plenty of intimate rooms here in the Twin Cities, where local and national bands alike can find their footing in a live setting while building a solid reputation within the Minnesota music community -- a rep that will follow them as they return to the area to play bigger clubs to match their rising profile.

So, if you're looking to catch bands on their way up before they make it big, here is a list of the best clubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul to see a band before everyone else does.

See Also:
Top 10 Twin Cities hip-hop venues
Top 10 Twin Cities dance venues
Top 10 best places to grab a drink before a show at First Avenue

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Photo By Reed Fischer

10. Amsterdam Bar & Hall
6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul

This new St. Paul club is perfectly suited to host large and small acts alike, with a room that can easily be configured to fit the size of the audience. The typical setup encourages smaller shows, while the room can be expanded to accommodate a larger crowd. While Amsterdam is still establishing its growing reputation as a live music venue, the club has seen its fair share of breakout acts, including Cloud Nothings' rousing first local performance (pictured above), and the emergence of the Girls Got Rhythm Festival (day 1, day 2), which shines a well-deserved spotlight on both new and established female-driven bands from a local and national level. No matter who is playing at the Amsterdam, it's a great sounding room, and the venue's local rep will only increase as time goes on. 

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9. Kitty Cat Klub
315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis

This ornate, opulent Dinkytown club is the type of room that encourages experimentation and originality, so it's no surprise that the venue has seen its fair share of breakout acts in their early stages. Poliça played their first ever show here, back long before they were selling out First Avenue. Night Moves also played the KCK quite a bit before they eventually caught the attention of the venerable U.K. label Domino Records. So, if you're looking to catch some live music in the U of M campus area, stop into the Kitty Cat Klub; there is bound to be something interesting going on there. And who knows, you might just be seeing the stars of tomorrow before everyone else catches on.

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Photo By Erik Hess

8. Icehouse
2528 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis

Icehouse is quickly establishing itself as one of the area's best live clubs, with a varied and eclectic concert calender that is always packed with fresh, innovative artists. And you never know who might pop on stage for a rare, once-in-a-lifetime collaboration or improv set. Last year's now-legendary Totally Gross National Party packed the place, inside and out, with local breakout stars like P.O.S., Poliça, Solid Gold, and Marijuana Deathsquads playing alongside newer bands like Father You See Queen, Leisure Birds, Votel, and Tha Clerb. Icehouse consistently brings in acts who are going to deliver something you've never seen before, and whether your tastes fall toward experimental jazz, indie rock, or somewhere in between, they've got you covered. 

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