An opportunity fell into Tanner Montague’s lap last summer.
It was a vacant 10,000-square-foot building near the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Lagoon Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis.
Inside the two-story space was a stage, sound system, light fixtures and DJ equipment — remnants of a sports bar and nightclub that closed last March.
Montague, a professional musician as well as booker at Keg and Case Market in St. Paul, saw the potential for a live music venue.
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About seven months later, the 400-capacity building would be sold out for the opening night of Green Room, a new space for Minnesota musicians and bands to perform their music.
The music venue’s debut on Jan. 28 featured a lineup of local rock and punk bands including Gully Boys, Scrunchies, FènixDion and Denim Matriarch as well as singer-songwriter Colin Bracewell. The cozy atmosphere is decorated with plants, a fun play on Green Room’s name, said Montague.
“It’s the size, capacity and ability to give local bands a chance to really make some money,” said Montague.
Gully Boys bass player Natalie Klemond said the Green Room feels less like a “black box” compared to other venues.
“It fits this size and capacity that we really needed,” said Klemond. “A lot of times you’re too big for Seventh Street Entry, it sells out too quickly. But having something as big as Fine Line might be more intimidating.”
Although places in Uptown like Granada Theater have been plugging along, Jack Kolb-Williams, vice chair of Minnesota Independent Venue Alliance, said “there’s definitely been a hole” in the last few years for live music. According to Williams, Green Room is the latest venue contributing to Uptown’s long history of music.
“It’s massive to have another music venue, especially now in these years post, currently pandemic,” said Williams. “The entertainment industry is still being impacted in some capacity, so it’s been a tough go these last few years. But anytime for a music venue to pop up is a huge win to be celebrated anywhere because it’s a huge undertaking.”
Montague said the biggest challenge he sees Green Room facing is that some people still don’t want to come to the Uptown neighborhood, which was the site of protesting, rioting and looting after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.
Montague, who’s played jazz and rock music across the world, wants to help revitalize the surrounding neighborhood into a “mini Vegas” with more bars, restaurants and places to go.
And he’s working toward that with Green Room, a space that welcomes all music genres, bands and artists. The next show is on Saturday and will feature Alex Rossi Trio, an R&B and funk band from Minneapolis.