It ain’t heavy (there’s no cover)

A look at some of the last remaining no-cover venues in Minneapolis.

by Tony Libera

Seems like today bars and music venues around Minneapolis will do anything to make an extra buck, and that includes charging an arm and a leg for cover. Thus, travelers searching for live music must either shell out whatever exorbitant fee is asked of them or go home despondent, their eardrums lacking that wonderful tinnitic chime. Thankfully, there are still a few no-cover venues in town, sanctuaries for those audiophiles who are light in the pocket. These places are scarce, and some are much better than others, but free live music continues to play throughout Minneapolis. KieranâÄôs Irish Pub KieranâÄôs recently moved shop to the atrophied Block E area, taking over Bella NotteâÄôs former spot in the hopes of drawing stumbling Twins patrons from Target Field. ItâÄôs a good strategy, appealing to drunken baseball fans, made all the more brilliant by their free music weekends. If thereâÄôs one thing drunks like more than baseball itâÄôs undoubtedly the sweet, Gaelic melodies of mother Ãâire. St. Anthony Main St. Anthony Main is generally known around campus for offering cheap movie viewings to us poor college kids, but in the summertime they throw their hats into the live music ring, too. Every weekend, the cats at St. Anthony will be hosting free concerts along the banks of the mighty Mississippi. Not only is it gratis, but also outside, which means you wonâÄôt have to take your rock and rum walled up in some tightly-packed dungeon. The scheduled acts appear to be aimed at a slightly older demographic, but hey, you get what you pay for. Hexagon Bar The Hex has been called a dive bar by more than a few, but thatâÄôs hardly a criticism when youâÄôre a no-cover rock âÄònâÄô roll venue. The drinks are stiff and priced nicely for those on a tight budget, the stage area is cozy and perfect for high-grade shredding and thereâÄôs plenty of space to play pool, converse with whatever sex you find attractive and do the jitterbug till the sun comes up (or until the bar closes at two). The Hex also features some of the better bands in Minneapolis, which sets this âÄúdiveâÄù above a majority of its cover-charging competition. 331 Club The 331 Club, situated in NortheastâÄôs burgeoning area of great bars and restaurants, is one of the few remaining locales that champions free status, their website exclaiming, âÄúNever a cover!âÄù Location and trendiness have given this place some serious hipster cred, but itâÄôs laid-back and pleasant regardless of your stereotypical social category. 501 Club The 501 is the 331âÄôs baby sister, offering the same amount of quality music and cool atmosphere, all without a cover. ItâÄôs seated downtown, close enough to the U, and is considered by some to be a little swankier than its elder counterpart. This is probably just a mirage effect from the larger space because the 501 clearly promotes the same philosophy of fun, as evidenced by recent screenings of the cult classic âÄúDariaâÄù and their wide-open dancing space.