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First Avenue gets museum treatment at the Minnesota History Center

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Crowds outside of First Ave in Minneapolis.
In April 2016, First Avenue was a gathering place for mourning and celebration in the days following the death of Prince, who had a long history with the club.
Jordan Abhold | Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society Press

It's Minnesota's most famous nightclub and now an exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.

"First Avenue: Stories of Minnesota's Mainroom" opened in May and is filled with gems, including "Mountain" — the tour bus used by Twin Cities hip-hop group Doomtree.

The exhibit's curator, B. Erin Cole, and The Current's Andrea Swensson joined guest host Brandt Williams to talk about the exhibit, the history of the place, the icons who performed there and why it's important to many Minnesotans.  

We also heard from callers who shared a few of their own memories:

Sharing the spotlight

Laura in Minneapolis ran spotlights for many shows at First Avenue over the years. She worked with her husband, "just cause we worked well together, and our timing was good together."

One of her most memorable shows? "Oingo Boingo was a gas!"

Before and after the buses

Alec from South Dakota shared memories from when First Avenue was still a bus depot, and great for people watching. And then a later memory of seeing Johnny Winter And — "shook me to my core."

The first show

Dave in Minneapolis' first show at First Avenue was when he was only 15 years old — The Flaming Lips. He's seen them at other venues since but seeing them at First Avenue "will always stick in my heart as one of the top five shows I've seen in my life and I've been going to shows for 20 plus years."

Memories from Twitter

As an intern at Drive 105, sweaty AF and having had freshly vomited, I made my very first band introduction in front of a sold-out They Might Be Giants crowd. pic.twitter.com/HSbinBNoYK

— Grand Moff Tarbox (@GrandMoffTarbox) June 19, 2019

1990 after graduation from Rochester John Marshall. My first dance club ever. Big city, all types of couples and music: I knew my life changed that night. I hope to some day return. pic.twitter.com/Mk6KSvOSC0

— Catherine Ousselin (@CatherineKU72) June 19, 2019

I miss when #FirstAvenue printed the colorful tickets. All sorts of colors and sometimes they had glitter on them! These are from my collection. pic.twitter.com/Ux1oh3HeOD

— Matthew VinGe (@mvinge) June 19, 2019

So many great ones but playing bass on Clouds with Zach Sobiech to a sold out crowd a couple months before he passed away was probably the most meaningful.https://t.co/QzeNPpP1hh

— Chris Holm (@heatwaveholm) June 18, 2019

probably singing backup vocals with @SbCol during The Clash tribute show while drinking a PBR pic.twitter.com/ca8ECxs8mK

— Linc 182 (@scullness) June 18, 2019

Seeing The Tragically Hip in 1993, the Fully Completely tour. Gord Downie was using the mic stand like a metal detector to find cigarettes on stage, throwing imaginary hand grenades while hiding behind amps and showing off some impressive hockey stick handling and shooting moves.

— Nick Rocks! (@MichienziNick) June 19, 2019

Use the audio player above to listen to the program. 

Playlist from the show

What's your favorite First Avenue memory?

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