My first First Avenue show: Yeasayer and Strange Names

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

If you saw my post last week, you'll know that I had never been to a show at First Avenue -- despite already hitting many of the other clubs around town. Knowing how essential this is to any serious Twin Cities music fan, I knew I had to go and make it soon after divulging my secret. On Saturday, I went to see Yeasayer in the iconic mainroom, and I can't believe I waited so long.

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I have never been to a concert at First Avenue
Slideshow: Yeasayer at First Avenue

I arrived before the doors had opened to be sure I could take in the whole experience. Once 8 o'clock approached, the crowd at the Depot next door quickly trickled out to join the queue of people. I discovered you don't have to wait until getting past the bouncer to experience the music as two street performers straddled the Seventh Street curb using their knees as drum sets.

Most people in line look as if they're wearing their clothes from earlier that day, but a few others are definitely dressed for the occasion -- skirts and dresses meant for weather 30 degrees warmer. My time soon came to receive my wristband and walk up the left ramp into the venue. Yes, I've seen hundreds of photos of the venue, but nothing can completely capture these sight lines and lights. You can be standing on the left balcony and spot a friend who's on the main floor, or all the way on the other side of the venue.

Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

Before any music started in the Mainroom, I ducked into the 7th St. Entry. With a row of in-wall seating in the back, the vibe is like a throwback to a basement or garage. It's easy to get up close and personal with each performer, making seeing locals End Quotes and headliners HRVRD one of the night's many highlights. It's a place where many musicians introduce their music to growing fan bases, and it's easy to see why it's such a coveted spot. The space is too intimate for noisy conversation, which makes listening and enjoying each set inevitable.

Back over in the Mainroom, the space didn't start to fill until after UMAMI's opening set. I took this as the perfect opportunity to check out all the recommended viewing spots. To my surprise, there was never a bad spot to stand. I lingered mostly on the balconies during UMAMI's psych-rock set and was pleasantly surprised, even though I wasn't directly in front of the music. It was perfect for warming up to a night enjoying a few drinks from one of the six bars.



After their set, I headed down to the ledge on the left side of the main floor. Dominated by the huge speaker overhead, it is definitely not for the faint of heart. As soon as Minneapolis's Strange Names took the stage, I was blown away. Anyone who stands here will become a part of the music as the bass beats through their chests. A few songs into their set, I decided to hop down into the main pit.

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