The Fine Line: What if it doesn’t suck?


There’s a familiar feeling when one of your favorite musicians is coming to town and they’re playing the Fine Line, and that feeling is “Wow, that sucks and I hate that place.”

But last weekend while I was walking out of the Andy Shauf show at the Fine Line, I came to a realization: that was a great show and a wonderful place to see live music. I’ve been to the Fine Line five times in my life: four times to see a show (Black Moth Super Rainbow, Battles, Deerhunter, Shauf) and once to perform. (My old band played a Local Music Showcase there eight years ago to an audience of four people, including the bartender and my mom. A band called Mustard Bus was also on the bill—hope they’re doing well.)


Anyone who checks out live music regularly in the Twin Cities knows that the Fine Line gets cast off as the I Wish That Band Was Playing at the 7th St Entry Instead venue. City Pages even chose it as the absolute worst venue in the Twin Cities in 2018.And some of those feelings are valid. Fine Line is in the most Edina Chad Bro part of Hennepin downtown, it doesn’t book as many big acts as First Ave, and it can feel a little posh for the flannel shirt/Grain Belt crowd. However, I’ve come full circle on the Fine Line Music Café (they dropped the Music Café) and I think you should too. Here are a couple reasons why.

1. The bands!

The Fine Line calendar right now has Guided by Voices, Nur-D & Gully Boys, Yves Tumor, Waxahatchee, and the Lemon Twigs. All those bands are great! In fact, maybe they outta change the name to the... Great Line Music Café!

2. Easy to pee!

If you’re like me, you pee all the time (maybe that’s bad?), which can make live music a logistical nightmare. Taking a whiz at Turf Club while the band is playing? Fuggetaboutit. Fine Line marks an open lane for people to walk to the bathroom without having to “ope, sorry” your way through the crowd to urinate. Huge win for the baby bladders like myself.

3. The sound!

Live music listeners who want to take the mellow psychedelic journey into the Tone Zone, you’re in luck. The sound at Fine Line is great without being too deafening. (Looking at you, First Ave mainroom. Too loud!)

4. It’s not the Fine Line, it’s you!

As a lifelong Minnesotan, I’ve learned that we’re always looking for something to complain about. We bond through bitching about almost everything: the weather, the Vikings, the Timberwolves, Uptown, Downtown, Northeast turning into Uptown, the 394-94 exit, the light rail, the Nicollet Ave. Kmart, the death of Nicollet Ave. Kmart, the 35th/36th St. exit on 35W, Kris Lindahl, the 1991 Halloween blizzard—you name it. Is it something about the cold weather and how far we are from the nearest ocean that turns us into insufferable whiny babies? Was my grandfather right in saying that “Most people live their life looking for something to complain about?” Either way, Minnesotans are notorious for giving criticism where criticism is not due, and Fine Line has been caught in the crosshairs for too long. In fact, I can’t wait to see Waxahatchee there in a couple weeks, and maybe someday I’ll even play there again if Mustard Bus wants to hop on a bill.

Andy Engstrom

Andy Engstrom