Besides the occasional Prince sighting, the Twin Cities are not a place of rock stars. While the Xcel Energy Center and the Target Center bring in their fair share of superstars (David Bowie in January), many times the biggest acts and festivals still consider these parts to be fly-over land. But who needs that cocky, holier-than-thou attitude mixed with BMWs and a coke habit anyway?
The Twin Cities might lack in celebrities, but we have something better and more important. We have a scene – a nationally respected scene. Today, bands still hit the First Avenue stage in awe at the fact it is the same place Prince, the Replacements and Husker Du all stood. The past has given us a reputation of meaningful and long-lasting music in do-it-yourself fashion that artists such as Fog, Dillinger Four and Atmosphere continue to expand from. Because of this reputation, the most influential artists in music come to the Twin Cities, providing every week with numerous options to see local, national and international artists in a club setting. It’s these clubs that help ensure this town is one of the best music scenes in the country.
Run down the concert calendar each week and surely you can find plenty of shows to see. Unfortunately for those under 21, the options are limited. Ever since the demise of the beloved all-age club the Foxfire, which closed in 2000, a solid all-age club has been missing. But plenty of clubs offer all-ages shows – enough to ensure at least a couple of choices each week.
Every Sunday night at the Dinkytowner Cafe is the “In the Garage” all-ages show. The restaurant, tucked away in a basement, provides cushy booths and sofas and serves classic burgers, fries and breakfast at anytime, while local indie rock, punk and hip-hop jams onstage.
The Babylon not only features all-age shows in a drug and alcohol-free atmosphere, but also includes guest speakers and activists, and has an art gallery in the space. The schedule is not very consistent but it is one of the best outlets for hardcore.
The newest venue on the scene, the Triple Rock, has greatly upped the number of all-ages shows since its birth this summer. Usually, the club offers all-ages shows at least once per week. Craig Finn of Lifter Puller remarked at one of the opening shows that this was one of the few clubs he has played that was meant to be a club – and it shows. The Triple Rock has a brilliant sound system and is the one of the few clubs to feature a stage you can see from any spot in the room.
The Quest Ascot room is always 18 plus and brings in the latest catch-’em-before-they-hit-MTV acts. It’s a beautiful room with fountains and mystical trees – like the Rainforest Cafe for rock. But make sure to get a spot up front and center or else the foliage might block your view of the band.
Everything from international acts to local pioneers of experimental jazz to old folks playing folk can be found at the Cedar Cultural Center. Take advantage of their student discount for a chance to see some of the most unique artists around.
Last and certainly not least, First Avenue and the Seventh Street Entry have a handful of all-ages shows every month. First Avenue is not considered the best club in town for no reason; just a quick look at the stars that feature past performers on the outside of the building gives you an idea this club is Minneapolis history.