BEST ROCK CLUB - 2000
Okay, bad things first: The perennial torrent of grumbles emerging from the club make it sound about as convivial a place to work as your average gulag, a fact sneering staffers take out on anyone foolish enough to get in their way. Countless organizational shake-ups, a mess of an in-house mag, and endless political intrigue make the club a wellspring of scenester gossip. The schedule is cluttered with mediocre blues, reggae, and often interchangeable dance nights while smilin' Bill Sullivan's 400 Bar and the ambitious Quest book the more cutting-edge acts. But it just wouldn't be First Avenue without the gripes--that we keep complaining and keep showing up anyway demonstrates what a valuable institution it is. Many Cities folks harbor musical memories of this place that rival one's sentimental attachment to a childhood bedroom--this is the place where we got drunk, got sober, and got busy, while some band or another played in the background. Would you rather see Sleater-Kinney or Moby or Ghostface Killah in some newfangled, polite, prefab building? Of course not. There's no getting around the fact that having an institution of First Ave.'s size and reputation is a good thing when it comes to securing national acts. Its continued existence is one of the factors that helps make Minneapolis hipper than, say, Indianapolis--at least for now.