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I have never been to a concert at First Avenue

I have never been to a concert at First Avenue

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.

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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.

I have never waited in line here.
I have never waited in line here.
Photo by Erik Hess

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.

I have never watched a show from this balcony.
I have never watched a show from this balcony.
Photo by Erik Hess

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.

This front barricade is totally foreign to me.
This front barricade is totally foreign to me.
Photo by Erik Hess

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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