Mill City Nights, the downtown Minneapolis music venue, one of the few venues to regularly host all-ages shows, is closing. Having opened in 2012, Mill City Nights has a welcoming venue full of kind staff who’ve hosted some big acts like Marilyn Manson, PVRIS, The Amity Affliction, The Devil Wears Prada, Mayday Parade and so many more. It has also become a great location for midwest locals like The Millenium, 4 Door Theatre, Time Atlas and Villain of the Story to perform. Those of us at Garage Music News have had some special experiences at this venue and are very sad to see it go. Here is our tribute, to Mill City Nights.
I’ve only gone to a handful of shows at Mill City Nights. Split up fairly evenly between the mainroom and the Nether Bar, I haven’t spent a large fraction of my life waiting in line outside or making memories inside of this venue. But the memories I have made have been some of the best. The first show I went to was on Valentine’s Day in 2015, when the Tragic Thrills played the Nether Bar. This show sticks out to me because it was full of new experiences: new bands, new friends, new venue–all things I hadn’t seen before that quickly became a big part of my life. And this theme has recurred with each show I’ve attended at Mill City. Whether it was seeing one of my favorite bands, The Maine, for the first time and completely falling in love, or being in the middle of an hours-long moshpit during Joyce Manor and Modern Baseball. Or maybe it’s that feeling of nostalgia and jittery excitement as I descend the steps into the Nether Bar to see a local band for the umpteenth time. Each show has brought along with it a host of memories that make me feel positively glowy inside, and remind me why I love music, especially live music, so much. It actually hurts a little bit to know that this happy place of mine will no longer exist, but at the same time it’s bittersweet, because I know that no matter what memories I make at shows in the future, good or bad, nothing can take away from how much this venue did for me.
I have only gotten the chance to go to Mill City Nights four times. But each show has a very special place in my heart. The memory that sticks with me the most, is my second time at the venue, and my first time in the Nether Bar. I saw my favorite band, Villain of the Story (VOTS) in 2014 for the first time. Ten VOTS shows later and this show is still one of my favorites. I saw them take that tiny stage by storm and fell in love with their music. It was an all-ages show and a venue a 13-year-old girl was able to feel safe at. It was such a happy show. Full of happy people and a good place for fans to hang out with the bands. Mill City immediately became one of my favorite venues. It is so sad to see it go, because VOTS has grown so much since then, and that venue will always be home to one of their first few shows, and the venue that stole our hearts. Mill City will always be a starting line for so many great locals, and it will be dearly missed.
I was crushed when I heard that beloved Minneapolis venue Mill City Nights was closing. Sure, maybe it’s not beloved to everyone, but I think of it as one of the most accessible venues in the Twin Cities for the all-ages music scene and it’s almost too important to just let go. My first show at Mill City Nights was the first show I’d ever been to in the alternative music scene. It was in May 2013 and I was thirteen years old. Accompanied by my mom and a good friend, straightened jet black hair, and the skinniest jeans I owned, I tentatively made my way to the venue to see a band that at this point, I’m too embarrassed to disclose. I remember feeling so cool because the iconic checkerboard wall of the venue matched my Hot Topic wristband. Yeah, I know. That day, I caught my first guitar pick and was able to gush about my love for the band to the guitarist after the show. Everything was sunshine and rainbows for once in the life of small-emo-me, and I still remember that day warmly. I could tell that there was something special about live music, and Mill City Nights harbored that love of mine. It took me six months to catch another show at that venue, but at that point I declared it my home. I think I’m more emotionally attached to the small space downstairs at Mill City—The Nether Bar—than I am to the main room. There I was right up against the stage for my all-time favorite artist and pal William Beckett, and I’ve seen other close friends of mine perform in the warm space. The tiny stage has so much charm, and in the room’s small area it’s impossible to not feel like part of a community. To me, when I hear the words “Mill City Nights” I think of huddling outside in the cold to wait for bands I love, forming bonds and making new friends, listening to artists soundcheck from outside, and living out my teenage years surrounded by like-minded music lovers in a welcoming venue. Despite its closing, I will forever be grateful for Mill City Nights being the setting of some of my fondest memories.