Minneapolis is no stranger to the screen, whether small or big. You could make a day-long tour of all our local movie and television landmarks, from the Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicollet Mall to the umpteen hockey rinks and parks that the Mighty Ducks series immortalized in the '90s.
Turns out that the City of Lakes is a popular spot for real-life scenes as well, especially when it comes to rock stars. Several rockumentaries released this century have included sequences set in Minneapolis, chronicling everything from roadies hauling equipment across downtown to a group of local legends headlining First Avenue in front of their families. Nothing beats watching a rock doc with your music nerd friends and exclaiming, "Hey, I've been there!," so let's take a look at four music documentaries where Twin Cities residents can do just that.
The Hold Steady, A Positive Rage, 2009
With a band that mentions City Center and Loring Park (affectionately referred to as "Penetration Park," of course) like they're the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, you have to expect that Minneapolis will play pretty prominently into any tour documentation. Sure enough, the last quarter of the Hold Steady's A Positive Rage, which came out in 2009 but documents the tour for Boys and Girls in America a few years earlier, takes place in the Twin Cities.
Edina native Craig Finn takes the camera for a ride on I-494, extolling the virtues of fellow hometown heroes the Replacements and the hallowed halls of First Avenue. The Hold Steady were in town to headline two nights at that iconic music venue, so you also get to see the band hanging out with their family in the green room and close out the film with a rousing rendition of "Stuck Between Stations."
Pixies, loudQUIETloud, 2006
In 2004, alt-rock icons Pixies chose Minneapolis's Fine Line Music Cafe as the spot to play their first show in 12 years. Naturally, the downtown venue plays prominently into the portion of the film that documents their comeback tour.
Starting about 11 minutes into loudQUIETloud, you get to see the band's soundcheck at the Fine Line, lead singer Black Francis reading every word of Chris Riemenschneider's full-page Star Tribune piece about the Pixies, and bassist Kim Deal and her sister Kelley interviewing their parents from the tables at the back of the room.
The very-sold-out comeback gig is met with rapturous applause, as evidenced by the rousing version of "UMass," which is seen in full here. "They were so happy that we were here and playing!" a beaming Deal exclaims to Francis after the show.
Sugarcult, Back to the Disaster, 2005
Pop-punkers Sugarcult may not have the name recognition, back catalog, or taste in filmmaking that the other three artists here do, but they do have one thing going for them when it comes to seeing our hometown on the television screen.
Around the 46-minute mark, road movie Back to the Disaster finds the band arriving in Minneapolis on a cold winter's day in 2005, prepping to play the now-defunct Quest nightclub (the present-day site of Epic). Several dedicated and freezing female fans are interviewed outside the venue and there are lots of shots of the Warehouse District as the roadies are forced to lug gear from one end of downtown to another thanks to a planning mix-up. Don't they listen to the 'Mats? Should've taken the skyway, guys.
Wilco, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, 2002
Wilco had the cameras follow them around for the making of their classic 2002 album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The result is this essential black-and-white rockumentary that takes viewers inside the studio, VIP area, and frontman Jeff Tweedy's brain.
Right after Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke bemoans the impatience of modern music listeners about 52 minutes in, Wilco are shown rocking the First Avenue stage with "Misunderstood" and "I Got You (At the End of the Century)." Interstitial shots show the poster advertising their June 2001 two-night stand in the Mainroom (before the era of the plain, block-lettered poster) and fans hanging outside the venue.
After the concert, we see Wilco hanging out in the green room with local rock luminaries like Gary Louris of the Jayhawks and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, who gets busted by Tweedy for stealing pizza. Later, bassist John Stirratt is found politely fending off requests to sign his female admirers' butts.
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