The second local story on the news yesterday (after, “gee shucks, there’s an elections on! My oh my, lines sure am long, maw!”) was that First Avenue declared bankruptcy yesterday, fired everyone, and started the process of moving upcoming shows (including Papa Roach, TRUSTcompany, MF Doom, GWAR, and Clutch) to other venues.
My first rock show was TMBG in Wisconsin (road trip), but my first REAL ROCK show was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, First Ave, back in 1994. I’ve definitely been there more than any other club (who hasn’t), and the last time was probably Mike Doughty in 2003, but it will be sad if they can’t put something else comparable in its place. Memories: gosh. I’m reminded of the first Mike Doughty show there, many TMBG shows (they always liked to mention Prince in that building), the period two springs ago where Jer and I were catching a show downtown about every other week, Jurassic 5, Elliott Smith, the show that RFTC missed, and we ended up seeing Selby Tigers and Get Up Kids for free, my only Ween experience, the Mr. Bungle show where Dillinger Escape Plan refused to come out… (Danno: am I wrong in thinking that we saw Sanctus there at one point?) When a band hit the stage at First Avenue, you got a real sense of who they were, and what they did. While the music that an artist puts out can paint pictures and form this strange relationship with everything in your brain, being on the floor at First Ave when that artist was playing put everything in perspective (“your rock idol is about 5’11″, 190… just a guy”).
Which is all sidestepping the major issue: it was a shitty, dirty club, with unidentifiable gank on every surface, about four good spots to stand and see a band, and exactly three chairs. It was a punk-rock place to see some punk-rock bands, but it was a punk-rock place to see bands that had nothing at all to do with punk rock, and sometimes you just wanted to escape the punk-rock of it all. The Quest is 800 times nicer, and not just because it’s a place you’d be comfortable getting drunk with your mom.
Still, your mom got drunk at First Avenue if she was at all cool. Many people grow up not knowing anything about seeing bands in clubs at all, and I’m glad I grew up in time to see the shows I saw.