Built in date nights are one of the benefits of being a mom (and dad!) within a blended family. On Thursday and Friday nights, our kids are always with their other parents, so we have no pangs of guilt leaving them behind and are able to enjoy our time together without worry.
My husband and I both love music, so attending live music shows together is one of our favorite date night activities. Minneapolis has such a great music history (think the Replacements, Husker Du, Soul Asylum, Prince) and we’re lucky to have so many opportunities to explore and experience live music in this town. Travel & Leisure magazine ranked it number 8 in its list of America’s best music cities and Livability.com, the site that ranks the most livable cities in America, ranked it number 2 on a similar list.
One of the venues we like to frequent most is First Avenue. As forty-something suburban parents to three teenagers, many times when we share this as one of our favorite activities, people are surprised. I guess we don’t look like what they envision a typical First Avenue concert goer to look like!
Ironically, in the same conversation, we often hear people say how they’ve always wanted to check out First Avenue, but were nervous about going or not sure what to expect. Wholeheartedly, I say go! Take a break from the dinner and movie monotony and experience something different – it can be a bonding experience to try something new together. Here are a few reasons why I think it’s worth checking out First Avenue, as well as some tips to make it an enjoyable and non-intimidating experience.
1) It’s a Minneapolis icon. Prince played there a lot in his early career and many of his Purple Rain movie scenes were also filmed there. Famous bands like U2, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers also played at First Avenue before graduating to much larger venues later on in their careers.
Tip: Wear black to fit in with the all black décor and be sure to wear sensible shoes since you’ll be standing on a cement floor all evening.
2) It’s one of the top rock clubs in the nation as noted by Rolling Stone and many musicians cite it as their favorite club to play in
Tip: Check out the stars painted on the exterior of the building identifying musical acts that have played at First Avenue – it makes for a great photo if you can find one of your favorites on the wall! The stars are repainted every 10 years, so don’t wait too long to look for your favorite artist!
3) It’s rumored to be haunted. There are many, many stories about how First Avenue is haunted and the women’s bathroom is at the center of many of them. If you’re in the mood to be creeped out, read about a few of the stories/legends here.
Tip: Bathroom lines are usually not a problem, but working your way through the crowd to get there can be.
4) The next time you have to “share something that people don’t know about you”, a trip to First Avenue makes for a great story and instantly ups your coolness factor!
Tip: On your next trip, poke your head into the neighboring 7th Street Entry club for even more street cred.
5) Since the club only holds about 1,500 people, you get great views of the musicians. If you’re normally an arena concert goer, you will really appreciate this.
Tip: For a unique (and usually much less crowded) view, walk around back by the coat check and stand along stage left, slightly removed from the main floor. It’s a great, close-up view of the musicians and sometimes you can see them come on and off the stage or watch them with their friends and families on the sidelines.
6) Although it’s always great people watching, you’ll fit in more than you think you will. We’ve seen all genres of music there, have experienced the vibe of many different types of crowds and have always had a great time! Check out my blog and search on the term “First Avenue” to read more about some of the different shows we’ve seen.
Tip: Choose a genre of music you like and don’t worry about waiting for a brand name band to appear on the schedule. Or, go on a night when many bands are playing to experience several different types of music. Check out the First Avenue calendar here to see what shows are coming up.
7) If your date isn’t up for going, consider taking your teenager to a show. Down the road, they will appreciate being able to say the first concert they ever saw was at First Avenue! Let your teen bring a friend and you’ll be the coolest parent ever!
Tip: Watch for the 16+ or 18+ shows – they don’t serve alcohol in the main room show area.
To make it a dinner date and show combo, maximize your people watching opportunities by grabbing a casual meal at the Depot Tavern next door to First Avenue. Other good options in the area are Seven for steak or sushi, Kieran’s Irish Pub for beer and burgers, or the old and steady standby (before or after the show), O’Donovan’s. Safe and easy parking is best at the Block E ramp on Hennepin and 7th or the LaSalle Court parking ramp at 8th and Lasalle.
I can’t wait to hear from those of you that venture out and try First Avenue – I know you’ll love it!