The Brick Gets Its Act Together

May 22, 2012

I went to a concert at The Brick last week and lived to tell about it. Actually, I had a very positive experience, so I thought I’d share a little review of the venue. First, a little background.

It’s hard to imagine a business having a worse grand opening than The Brick. The Minneapolis Warehouse District’s newest music club launched to disastrous results with a Jane’s Addiction show in March. Unacceptably long lines outside in the rain. Horrible and/or non-existent sight lines. Too many people. Not enough restrooms. Fans were disappointed at every turn and complaints via social media began battering the venue’s reputation before the band’s set ended.

Then things really got ugly. Fans launched TheBrickMNsucks.com to house complaints and critics destroyed the place in the press. Anytime you need to issue an apology, offer full refunds and immediately close the doors for an emergency renovation, you’re not off to a good start.

I have no idea how an operation could be so unprepared — especially one funded by the deep pockets of AEG Live — but they have taken all the right steps since that brutal first night. They moved several shows to The Myth to give themselves time to resolve some of the biggest issues — including promises to raise the stage height, reduce the number of tickets sold, reconfigure the main entrance and add several TV screens.

I was cautiously optimistic when I arrived for the show, but my heart sank a bit when I saw the line of fans stretching two blocks about 15 minutes after the doors were scheduled to open. The line continued to expand as another 10-15 minutes went by and  fans started to grumble. Fortunately, security was checking IDs and applying wristbands to everyone in line outside — allowing things to move pretty swiftly once they did crack the doors. The wait was a potential negative, but it was a beautiful evening so there was no issue with standing in the fresh air for a bit. Plus, the opening band was still working through sound check when we got in, so I’m guessing it wasn’t the venue that was running behind schedule.

Inside it was packed but not uncomfortable. The place feels very intimate, even more so than First Avenue, and the spots up front are very close to the stage. The sound was excellent — perhaps the best in town. Security guards were tossing out bottles of water to thirsty fans, which was nice (although they need to quit trying to squirt water into people’s mouths from a distance — poor aim meant a dousing for neighboring fans). When things wrapped up, they opened a side door, which made for an easy exit.

The full renovation is not yet complete, but you can see promise in the space. Sure, there’s an angry mob of Jane’s Addiction fans who have vowed never to forgive The Brick, but we should be rooting for the venue to succeed. It’s a cool building in a convenient location and I like the idea of AEG booking bigger acts in a small club. I definitely give it a thumbs up and I’m sure I’ll be back soon. So don’t be afraid of all the negative buzz, music fans. Get there early to score a sweet spot and enjoy the show.