I have never been to a concert at First Avenue

First_Avenue_Stars_question.jpg
I have a confession to make. I have never been to First Avenue. Yes, I understand this is an absurd statement coming from an early twenty-something who has lived in the Twin Cities for practically her entire life, but I'm not going to get into the plethora of excuses for it. This venue is essentially the heart and soul of the Minnesota music scene and I'm just as confused as you are that I have yet to experience a show there.

Unlike Emily White, who notably never owned any music to begin with, I'm trying to rectify this situation -- and quickly.

See Also:
First Avenue named no. 3 best "big room" in America by Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone readers: First Avenue is the 2nd best venue in America
Top 10 best places to grab a drink before a show at First Avenue


I am no stranger to other Twin Cities venues. Big stadium performances aside, I've attended shows at the Fine Line, Varsity Theater, Station 4, Cedar Cultural Center, and the Cabooze multiple times over the past couple of years, and their intimate experiences are what keep bringing me back. Although bigger names often sell out venues such as Target Center and Xcel, they lack artist-audience connection, which I believe is essential to a memorable performance.

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Photo by Erik Hess
I have never waited in line here.
Memorable performances are one thing First Avenue never fails to give. Rolling Stone recently bestowed the venue with the prestigious titles of second Best Music Venue in America and third Best "Big Room" in America, and no one remotely interested in MN music should be surprised.

First Avenue was the starting point for many popular Minnesota musicians such as Prince (duh), the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Semisonic, Soul Asylum, and many, many more. First Avenue is not only a venue to kick-start a musician's career, it's also the location of Prince's 1984 film Purple Rain, where U2 wrote part of October, and the site of Lucinda Williams's marriage. I have been to hundreds of places that have less significance than First Avenue.
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Photo by Erik Hess
I have never watched a show from this balcony.
More importantly, First Avenue is Minneapolis's own Walk of Fame. With hundreds of stars gracing its exterior walls -- many of which being Minnesota's own -- it commemorates the best of the best. These are the influential artists that stand the test of time and the music that gets us through the day. I used to bus past the 7th St. Entry every day last summer, and stared at the stars of artists such as the Cure, P.O.S., and TV on the Radio, and wondered. I often expanded my listening choices solely based on the fact that an act was on First Avenue's walls.
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Photo by Erik Hess
This front barricade is totally foreign to me.
So, after years of longing -- this sounds incredibly cheesy, so my apologies -- I've decided it's my time to finally experience First Avenue for the first time. I'm taking the plunge at the Yeasayer and Strange Names show this Saturday.

So, dear readers and First Avenue regulars, what awaits me on my inaugural visit to the club? What was your first First Avenue show? Where do you like to stand? What should I order at the bar? Any other tips? My first experience is all in the hands of the experienced, which -- at least I hope -- will soon become me as well. Next week, I'll let you know how everything went.


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42 comments
sthoudek
sthoudek

My first concert(at First Ave.)  was Run DMC in 1988.  Last concert was Soul Asylum back in December.

Anna Gonzalez
Anna Gonzalez

Giving an option that you don't share doesn't mean it's rude. You act like I'm calling gimme noise garbage and the writer a stupid skank hoe. I just said i didn't like the article and I don't particularly like that a "music writer" is writing about the twin cities music scene when they've never even been to first ave.

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

I don't know that I have the language to properly explain HOW it's rude to comment calling the post pointless and asking why we should care. I guess it just comes down to the old adage: "If you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all".

Anna Gonzalez
Anna Gonzalez

Oscar...Yeah I said the post was pointless. I read and enjoy reading majority of the articles gimme noise posts so I have the right to give my option about what I think is a below average article. How is that rude?

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

I'm so jealous about Husker Du. Too young to have seen one of the bet bands ever!

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

When did you see them? I saw them there in like 2002. I saw them at the Cabooze a few months back and I was about the second oldest person there. I accidentally went to the all-ages show.

bloatedbudgets
bloatedbudgets

My first show at First Avenue was The Temper Trap in 2010 (when I moved to Mpls). Best shows I've seen there would have to be Bloc Party in 2012 and Keane this January. I always stand  as close as I can on stage left. Have fun- First Ave is my favorite music venue on Earth!

Travis Hockert
Travis Hockert

Walk up those stairs if you want beer spilled on your head

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

Did anyone else go to EVERY ska show there in the 90's? I can't be the only person who remembers The Siren Six!

Luke Bakker
Luke Bakker

My first was nofx and it was awesome, order a beer and stand on the balcony if you don't want to mosh!

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

Anna: "..first off why do we care if some one has or hasnt been to a venue before? Most pointless article I've ever read from gimme noise. Second the only reason I do care is...." Hahahahaha! So pointless you had to take time to write a comment about it! I for one enjoyed the post- it asks questions at the end and lets the readers discuss and reminisce. That's fun for some of us. I also enjoy reading the comments about others' experiences. But not your comment. You're rude.

Eric Natvig
Eric Natvig

Husker Du, so long ago. More recently, Arctic Monkeys, Spoon and Jimmy Eat World, twice. I drive from Moorhead to get there.

Brian O'Neal
Brian O'Neal

my first main room show was Sleater-Kinney in 96 or 97 - went to lots of friends' (or friends of friends) band's shows at the Entry in the 90's as soon as I could get in.

Kathy Drews
Kathy Drews

oo! flub!!! sorry Chase Chase! shout out for Bunkers!!

Chase Chase
Chase Chase

Thanks for the shout out Kathy! I dig First Ave and have played there, but the Aug 3rd Bday show is at Bunker's in Mpls.

Kathy Drews
Kathy Drews

I go there often, will pay 8-12 bucks for a drink and highly recommend you check out First Ave's site for upcoming shows. d'Angelo will be there in August for a 2nd time this year. Saw him perform with Questlove a month or two ago. Saw Alexander and Cherelle perform there last Friday. And gotta give a shout out to Chase & Ovation who will be there on August 3rd. Chase Chase

tim.brackett
tim.brackett

I moved here in November and made my first visit to the Entry in December (Reignwolf).  Since then, I've seen Of Monsters and Men, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Tame Impala & Jim James in the Mainroom and Ha Ha Tonka at the Entry.  If you can get there early enough to be at the front of the stage, it is definitely the best spot.  Otherwise, the balcony or the railing along the floor to the left (as you face the stage) are my favorite spots to watch a show.

Anna Gonzalez
Anna Gonzalez

I have a couple problems with this post first off why do we care if some one has or hasnt been to a venue before? Most pointless article I've ever read from gimme noise. Second the only reason I do care is the fact that you have some one who writes reviews for shows for a music blog has never been to a show at first ave to me is like some one telling me what good music is whose never heard the beatles or the stones or bowie.

Nathan David Teegarden
Nathan David Teegarden

Back in the day they had reasonably priced drinks. Maybe that's why they were losing money, but $8 cocktails make me want to drink beforehand and not buy anything at the show.

Nathan David Teegarden
Nathan David Teegarden

I have been to many, and enjoyed most of them, but that venue is way overhyped. There are many places where you can't see the stage at all. Then there are the bouncers who make eye contact with you as you show them your hand stamp while crossing to the Entry, then angrily grab you and demand to see your hand stamp. And I miss tap Leinie's in hard plastic cups!

John Dam
John Dam

GWAR was my first concert at First Avenue and I saw them last year. I wanted to see The Cranberries but it did not fit in my schedule.

Patrick Toth
Patrick Toth

"I have never been to First Avenue. Yes, I understand this is an absurd statement coming from an early twenty-something who has lived in the Twin Cities for practically her entire life, but I'm not going to get into the plethora of excuses for it." Oh, brother. Some confessions are best kept secret.

Matthew Martin
Matthew Martin

I've been a few times over the past few years. I was last there for the ?uestlove/DeAngelo concert. I like to sit on the wall (there's a wall on the left side of the stage). If you're you're in front of the speakers... hopefully you brought your ear plugs. Prepare for 8+ dollar cocktails. Makes for a fun night.

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

My first was Rancid in around '96 or so. Then they gave us comps for a Babes In Toyland show. Do they still give comps? We would go to show after show after show just on the stacks of comps they would hand out there.

GlossolaliaBlack
GlossolaliaBlack

You're young. You don't have to be born with scene cred. My first big concert at First Ave was Liz Phair back in 94, when I was your age. (Jesus H. Christ.)

Seriously, tho, get up on that. First Ave's a legendary place for a reason. You'll enjoy yourself.

Talia TK Kay
Talia TK Kay

I have never been to a concert at First Avenue either.

Travis Hockert
Travis Hockert

Like this post if you've been kicked out before the main act.

Daniel
Daniel

I was in sort of the same boat a few years ago. I was 20, had been to dozens of shows in the Entry, but was waiting for the "perfect" Mainroom show, though I had no idea what band I was actually waiting for. 

Coincidentally, it wound up being Yeasayer in April 2010, with Sleigh Bells opening.

One year later, I started working full-time at First Ave and never looked back. It's amazing where your first First Avenue show can take you.

brill029
brill029

If you can get there early grab a seat on the ledge over the ramp to the main floor. You'll be above the crowd, have a place to put your drink, and have easy access to the back bar.

My first show was KMFDM in '97 or '98. I was 14 and maybe 140 pounds, so I decided to try crowd surfing. It went great until a gigantic bouncer pulled me down in a headlock and yelled something in my terrified 14-year-old face about kicking me out if I did that again. I spent the rest of the show getting my ass kicked in the mosh pit.

Good times.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@mitchell39 no need to get all bent, just words man. 

entertaining myself while empowering others to think freely

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@mitchell39 oh because i am not a conformist- that makes me a broken person( very hurtful attack)

please explain and let us know why you are so much better

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