While most people know First Avenue for its supporting role in Purple Rain, our favorite part of Minneapolis’ most iconic club isn’t the 1,500-capacity room Prince rocked alongside the Revolution in 1984. We actually prefer its conjoined twin around the corner: 7th St Entry, a local institution known for launching the careers of The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and more.
The Entry also books national acts on a regular basis, providing them a more intimate platform than the main room, which can feel like a Surly-fueled sweatbox during sold-out shows. With just enough space for 250 people and clear sight lines throughout, it’s hard to think of a better spot to see underground artists like JPEGMAFIA — the stage-diving, mic-slaying MC shown above. The rising Baltimore rapper kept an eager crowd duly entertained recently, capping a week that also featured the synth-laced post-punk of The KVB.
Other Entry bills we were psyched to see over the past year include the idiosyncratic avant-pop anthems of Matthew Dear, the raucous indie rock of Black Midi, and the moonlit melodies of Minneapolis’ own Velvet Negroni. Having just wrapped a handful of dates with Tame Impala, the singer/producer is bound for a breakout. Which is exactly why the Entry is such an essential part of the Twin Cities’ music scene: Because it’s a place where you see tomorrow’s stars today.
The same goes for First Avenue itself, of course; for nearly 50 years, it’s been an early supporter of such major artists as Metallica, U2, Depeche Mode, The Ramones, Wu-Tang Clan, and, well, just peep the star mural outside that serves as a reminder of revelatory performances from nearly every noteworthy musician imaginable. For a more in-depth look at First Avenue’s storied history, check out the Minnesota Historical Society exhibit that’s on display now through May 2020, as well as special events like a November 5, 2019 panel featuring the venue’s longtime photographer (Daniel Corrigan) and soundman (Randy Hawkins) alongside current promoter Ashley Ryan and booker James Taylor.
First Avenue & 7th St Entry
701 N. 1st Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-338-8388 (First Avenue), 612-332-1775 (7th St Entry).