West Bank venue Medusa has closed (2007-2013)

Tenement performing at Medusa last November
Tenement performing at Medusa last November
Photo by Reed Fischer, who is not a professional photographer

West Bank underground venue Medusa has bit the dust after five-and-a-half years. The space, located near the Cedar-Riverside LRT stop, was an extension of the vibrant house show community in the Twin Cities, and provided a grimier alternative to the traditional (and fully licensed) clubs.

Because the venue wasn't exactly up to health code -- check out this "gross sink" documented by Dan Deacon -- and couldn't legally sell liquor, promotion for events had to be away from the traditional channels. You would never find an upcoming Medusa concert schedule in City Pages. Instead, it would take some web-crawling to find concert info online. But it was always a treat to get an email from a publicist who had a touring artist stopping at the hot, smelly box of a room -- which did happen frequently.

On Monday, Medusa's final show was held, and the fringe acts Myrrh, False, and Schafe were among the performers, according to Sheila Regan's wrap-up in

The reason for the closure: the landlord is selling. And as the story details, this was a place to live -- a scuzzy one at that -- for several of the club's local champions.

"Money was a big stress," said Joe Berns, who lived at Medusa for a time. The renters together paid around $3,000 a month including utilities, and Berns ultimately moved out because it "had become toxic," he said, with incidents such as bed bugs and worms. Not to mention the big pit of oil underneath the building, which he believes is from the days the building was an old mechanic's shop.

Having attended at show at Medusa last fall, the toxic nature of the place definitely is tough to miss. Seeing what was caked on its surfaces in the light of day would be a germaphobe's nightmare. That said, nothing about a place like Medusa was meant to be sanitized for the general public.

The punk show I attended -- and took a series of low-lit photos like the blurry one posted above -- was nothing short of brilliant. The kids in the place were swinging from the ceiling, and dancing with no regard for their surroundings. If there was a fight, they worked it out and kept moving. The highlight of the night was Milwaukee-based Tenement -- an exercise in calculated rawness. The room seemed to fuel their ferocity, and definitely made them feel like a more dangerous band.

Fortunately, Medusa in its simplest, DIY essence will never die. The kids will always find another warehouse, another basement, another back yard, and stay two steps ahead of the rest of us.

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