Minneapolis Rock City

By Mpls.St.Paul Magazine / Inspired by Polica's My North

It can be tough to pin down the enigmatic synth rock band Poliça. The group was called “the best band I’ve ever heard” by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon in a Rolling Stone interview, but they don’t like to talk about themselves all that much, and as a result they don’t do tons of interviews. Fortunately, there is one thing they’ll gladly talk about on the record: their home state, Minnesota. And while there’s a lot they love about the state, perhaps not surprisingly, they get extra-stoked about the many iconic rock clubs of Minneapolis. Here are Poliça’s five favorite Minneapolis music venues.

First Avenue

First Avenue
The iconic downtown Minneapolis music venue, First Avenue.

The great aspiration of any musician growing up within earshot of the Twin Cities is to play on the hallowed stage at First Avenue, so it’s no wonder that it holds a special place in the hearts of Poliça, too, who’ve been honored to play there on multiple occasions. It’s the same club today as it was when it opened its doors nearly 50 years ago, when Prince, the Replacements, Husker Du and any number of pioneers of the late-70s born, 80s-bred “Minneapolis Sound” made it famous. First Ave and its sister venue next door, the 7th Street Entry, have a gravity that is unmatched in Minneapolis music.

Triple Rock Social Club

What do you get when a legendary local punk rock musician opens a legendary local rock venue? The Triple Rock Social Club. Owned by Erik Funk, the frontman of immortal Minneapolis punk band Dillinger Four, and his wife Gretchen, the Triple Rock is the physical embodiment of the Funks’ punk ethos. With its no-frills, industrial music hall feel, the T-Rock’s undeniable energy connects the audience with the musicians in a way that brings everyone into the music. And, lest you think the Cedar-Riverside based club is all moshing all the time, they’ve got a full kitchen serving up greasy spoon grub all day long, including a vast selection of vegan-friendly options, and a kids menu dubbed “Munchkinland,”

Cedar Cultural Center

Located in a former movie house just down the street from the Triple Rock, the Cedar Cultural Center might be physically close to the punk club, but it’s ideologically light years away. A nonprofit, The Cedar was founded in 1989 as a way to “promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music and dance.” It has evolved into a mixed media venue that showcases everything from global roots to indie to Americana to blues music, as well as films, comedy, and spoken word poetry.

Kitty Cat Klub

One of the more under-the-radar venues in Minneapolis, known for chill vibes and dim lights, the Kitty Cat Klub is a musician’s music venue, and it’s no surprise that Poliça gave it a nod as one of their favorite venues. Although it’s just a stone’s throw from one of Bob Dylan’s old college apartments in Dinkytown, much like Dylan himself, Kitty Cat isn’t college-y at all. The dramatic and intimate, loungey digs are the perfect setting for small scale jazz and acoustic sets from big scale bands.

Icehouse

Located on Eat Street in South Minneapolis, Icehouse scratches a musical itch in a neighborhood that’s better known for its spectacular global eats. Residing in a cavernous former ice storage warehouse, Icehouse has gone from an upstart venue looking to find its niche to one of the area’s premier jazz clubs. So whether you’re going on a Sunday morning for revival brunch, or to J.T.’s Monday Night Jazz Club, you’re sure to discover some swell music, and eats and cocktails that are a worthy second billing.

My North is a weekly video series created in partnership with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Explore Minnesota. If you missed Polica's story, view it here.

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