After months of construction and anticipation, a few press events and a VIP party last week it was finally time: The Fillmore Minneapolis opened their doors to the public – well, public if you scored a ticket. Brandi Carlile was chosen as the opening headliner performing 3 sold out shows in 3 nights. But honestly, for many in the crowd, the venue was the star this first night.
Opening night for venues in the Twin Cities are judged by an unique standard. Was it worse that mess that was The Brick back in 2012? I am happy to report it was much, much better.Heck, I would call it darn near perfect. Let’s start with logistics. Folks were standing in line way before doors were scheduled to open at 630 PM. But once doors were open the line moved pretty quickly – maybe not quickly enough if you happened to be in that line in zero degree weather. Doing ID, security check and tickets in 3 separate steps each with multiple lanes sure helped.
Once inside the General Admission area on the floor has great sight lines, traffic in and out of the bathrooms seemed to be flowing freely (sorry I couldn’t resist) and bars were filling drinks quickly. One thing I noticed, was that there seemed ample space on the main floor even though it was a sold out show with a crowd of 30-50 somethings.
Upstairs took it up a few notches. The pricier tickets got you seats and the hustle and bustle of servers moving through the crowd with drinks was impressive. What sight lines I saw seemed clear with support columns in a few spots. During the press events management had mentioned that access to the VIP areas may vary by show.
And the sound? We did not test it from every spot in the house but both artists sounded great, even though opener Courtney Marie Andrews was pretty much her voice and her guitar. The Fillmore went to great lengths that guests in the hotel above would not be subjected to sound and vibration. Not only is there sound dampening galore, rooms above actually rest on springs to absorb the vibration – like nuclear missile silos.
Little things that stood out to me were the presence of an EMT and a couple of police officers – nice to know pros are on hand if something goes wrong. So back to the music……….
Opener Courtney Marie Andrews set was soft and quiet with a few spots when she let her vocal powers shine. She joked that being from Arizona she was wearing scarfs for fun and that even 7 layers of light dresses would not work in MN weather. Fans will get to see her again as part of the Basilica Block Party lineup this summer.When booking a headliner to open a new venue, one thought must have been in that back of everyone’s mind “Let’s not screw this up!” Veteran Brandi Carlile is pretty much a guarantee that nothing will go wrong. She even came up with 3 different sets for her 3 nights. The first night was just Brandi and the Twins. Not the baseball team from the neighboring stadium but twin brothers from her band. Carlile started her set with the words “This just feels right” and it sure did. She threw in an impromptu “Happy Birthday” sung the the whole Fillmore for a 9 year old in the front row, a few covers and brought out Courtney Marie Andrews for one song.
So I call the Fillmore Minneapolis’ opening night a rousing success. And here’s a little secret: If an artist comes to town and you can’t score tickets. The Trax Burger Bar in the venue has some pretty good food (The Trax burger gets a thumbs up from last night), a TV showing the stage and you still get a pretty good sound from the adjoining room. That’s pay-per-view I can live with.
Set List: Follow / The Things I Regret / Raise Hell / What Can I Say / The Story / The Eye / I Will / May Your Kindness Remain (with Courtney Marie Andrews) / Wherever Is Your Heart / Downpour / Fall Apart Again / Sugartooth / Bring My Flowers Now / River / Dying Day / The Joke / Turpentine
Encore: Highwomen (The Highwomen song) / Pride and Joy