Local Bands in the Twin Cities

Hey Twin Cities Dopers past and present… okay, and future ones too,

I just moved to the Twin Cities area, and I’m looking get an understanding of the types of music local bands play. I know City Pages is a good source (both print and online) for where bands are playing, but I know nothing about what type of music these bands play. Is there a good source that would give information on the types of music bands play? Or even the type of music certain establishments play?

I would also entertain personal suggestions, so I suppose it would help if I gave you an idea of the kind of music I like. As broad as the category is, I’m a classic rock fan. So I can be content with cover bands that play the standards from the classic rock catalogue (Clapton, Zeppelin, the Eagles, yada yada yada).

I also like Alt Country. In fact, that’s probably what I’d like to see more often. I like Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, but lean more towards the honky-tonk sound (and away from the pop country trite that permeates country music airwaves these days). I saw Trailer Trash at Lee’s Liquor Lounge last weekend and enjoyed that.

But I’m mellowing with age, so I’ve developed an appreciation for Americana and folk (I’m considering going to see Gillian Welch in September). I’d be up for some various types of World music if you have recommendations.

Jazz? Yeah, I’d do jazz. But jazz clubs tend to advertise themselves as such, so I don’t think I’ll have a problem there. Bands that play a jazz and rock fusion that might play in venues other than jazz clubs? Sure, let me know about 'em.

At times, I am willing to experiment. But in general, I don’t care much for club music, metal, electronica, rap, or punk. Not judging; I just don’t fancy them.

So your thoughts and ideas (and especially suggestions for a good local resource) are greatly appreciated.



Here’s my experience:


The 400 Bar–rather small, so usually acts that don’t have huge followings. Good mix of music. Sometimes they’re at capacity and sometimes I’ve been one of 10 people in the audience. They used to have one artist play every week (that’s how Soul Asylum broke). The last artist they did this with was Mason Jennings, who’s playing this Friday. He’s a singer-songwriter with a pretty rabid local following. Bands I’ve seen there include Slobberbone, Tim Easton, David Dondero, Spoon, Freedy Johnston, The Hot Snakes, Maktub, and Robert Walter’s 20th Congress. So a mix of alt-country, singer-songwriter, punk, funk, and jam bands.

Cabooze–only been to a show there once. The floorplan (stage and bar) is a bit akward. I don’t go there often so I can’t comment on the types of music.

Fine Line–shortly before the fatal Great White show last winter, they had a fire. Luckily no one was hurt. In general, the type of acts they get are the types that appear on either Drive 105 or Cities 97 (if you listen to those radio stations). Nothing too hard–a lot of times artists will go there if they’re not big enough for the First Avenue.

The Quest–similar to the Fine Line, but a bit of a younger crowd (they definitely seem to get the high school/college crowd). More electronic stuff, though I’ve also seen My Morning Jacket there.

First Avenue–of course, you can’t mention Minneapolis music without mentioning this. Probably the largest non-arena venue in Minneapolis. Also get a wide variety of music. I’ve heard the White Stripes, Lucinda Williams, Semisonic, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and many others there.

I’m not as schooled in local music as I’d like to be. Here are the ones I know off the top of my head–

I’ve already mentioned Mason Jennings

G.B. Leighton–my boyfriend and I play a game by counting how many times their ads appear in the music section of the City Pages. I heard them once–definitely a feel-good bar band. Not really my cup of tea.

The Honeydogs–rather large band (the 2 times I’ve seen them, they had a horn section, a drummer and a percussionist) that allmusic.com calls alternative rock. My boyfriend says that Adam Levy, the frontman, does a great solo show, too.

The Flops–members John Munson and Matt Wilson were in an early Minneapolis band called Trip Shakespeare (Munson and Wilson’s brother Dan went on to form Semisonic). Have only heard a few of their songs, but they really didn’t do much for me.

Hope that helps.

I like The Big Wu

Hey, can you go through the other good local bands of the style that the op wasn’t interested in?

Is Atmosphere considered a local band still?

I doubt anyone would be interested, but I know someone that’s in a band that plays (or used to play, I haven’t seen him in a while) frequently at the Fine Line. They’re called Northern Diving Company. But they’re sort of a christian band.

Thanks for the info, easy e. I might checkout Mason Jennings at 400 Bar tomorrow night. I like some singer/songwriter music, so I think it’s worth checking out one of the popular local ones.

I have to admit, I’ve already started playing the GB Leighton game unintentionally. In fact, I live down in Burnsville, and I’ve notice there playing down here tonight and in Apple Valley tomorrow night. Maybe someday I’ll check them out, but your post gives me the impression they’re a frat band type, so no hurry.

And dry gear’s request is a good idea. Though I ruled out certain types of music for me, others may benefit from discussions of all genres.



Click here. Down towards the bottom of the page “Local Band Profiles”. Need to sign up, but its free. Or is you use mozilla, use that BugMeNot feature on it.

Btw, Helmet fan??

Hey, do any of you guys listen to Radio K?
They play some good local stuff on there sometimes.

In metal, 13th Step is now out in LA, alas (I know Mikey, the bassist- REOWR!). Otherwise Slow Children is the best we have, IMO.

Thanks, Burrido! That’s the kind of information for which I was looking. On my own, I also found a listing for all Minnesota bands at MusicSceneNetwork.org . It doesn’t go into as much depth as your link, but it does give links to band websites with sample clips.

Plus, I’m headed to the Pizza Luce Block Party this afternoon to listen to some local music.

I’ve heard of Helmet, but I had never heard any of their stuff. I just checked out some clips on their site. Not to my tastes.

Thanks for your input, though.

Hey, I listen to “A Band Called Delicious”. Great local band. Some of the best songwriting around IMHO.

A Band Called Delicious

Np. The reason I asked about Helmet is because “Milquetoast” was their hit radio song in the late 90’s.

I, too, am about to move to Minneapolis. One of the reasons I want to move there is to be able to see Grant Hart perform. I absolutely worship him. The fact that he isn’t a bigger draw in his hometown depresses the hell out of me. (But I am from Memphis…the city that has mastered the art of ignoring Big Star for thirty some-odd years)

Everybody–go to his next show, dammit. I command thee. (Hell if I know when that’ll be-I know he had one recently.)

I just looked him up. I’m surprised he’s not as well known, having been in Husker Du.

Another great venue is Triple Rock. They have 2 for 1 beers on Tuesdays, and they have a lot of local bands perform.

But I rarely go out, so that’s the best I can do.


I’m not from the Twin Cities but I regularly listen to a great online radio show from the area called Radio Rumpus Room. They support local music and seem to occasionally be involved with some good live events. Plus, they archive their radio show, so that it can be listened to anytime, rather than just during the broadcast.

Seek out The Jayhawks. I believe they are even from the wonderfull Minn. area. (catch my clever abbreviation because I don’t know how to spell it?)

See them, hear them, live them. Start with “Blue Earth” and move toward the present/future! A must!

Another convert…

I really like the Jayhawks too.
The only album of theirs I have is their newest one though.

You are correct, gatopescado, they are from Minneapolis.

Thanks, I’ll keep an eye out for them (and an ear out for some of their audio reproductions).