The Hold Steady
Heaven is Minneapolis
The Hold Steady is at its best when sticking to classic-rock riffs and Twin Cities tales. The band’s last album, Stay Positive, hardly mentioned Minnesota. Which is why the new Heaven Is Whenever is a rollicking return to form. Even though frontman Craig Finn and guitarist Tad Kubler left for Brooklyn before forming the group, in spirit they’ve never left the Land o’ Lakes. As you can see, the lyrics in this latest batch of jukebox rockers are a veritable tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
“Saw the Youth of Today at 7th Street Entry.”
Long before Prince made it famous, the First Avenue building was a Greyhound depot. 7th Street Entry, the dingy little dive stuck to the side of the club like a remora, was the bus station’s diner and coatroom. The room leans more on punk acts (like the Youth of Today). Steve Albini’s Big Black recorded a track from Atomizer there.
“Soft in the Center”
“I’m from a place with lots of lakes.”
Minneapolis (“City of Lakes”) holds more than 20 lakes; the most prominent are the Chain of Lakes, which run along the city’s southwest side. Finn mostly sings about them freezing, but they’re best experienced at the annual Aquatennial (July 16–24), with the Milk Carton Boat Race and sand sculptures of Joe Mauer.
“Let’s go back Uptown.”
The Replacements used to pick up their royalty checks at the goofily titled music shop Oar Folkjokeopus, which is now Treehouse Records. The notorious drinkers would then spend the money at the CC Club bar, right in the heart of Uptown, the MPLS analogue to Wicker Park.
“The Sweet Part of the City”
“Back when we were living up on Hennepin.”
Hennepin Avenue runs from the downtown warehouse district (“the sweet part of the city, with all the bars and restaurants”), over Nicollet Island, past the landmark sign for Grain Belt beer, and into Northeast neighborhood. Nye’s, a watering hole from the ’60s preserved in amber light, sits along this stretch.
“It’s a long way from Cedar-Riverside to Cedars-Sinai.”
The C-R hood, on the west bank of the Mississippi, has been home to waves of immigrants from Vietnam and Somalia, as well a cheap place for U. of M. students to rent. Triple Rock Social Club is there, too, a friendly rock & roll joint run by members of Dillinger Four (who pop up in HS songs like “Certain Songs” and “Girls Like Status”).
“We Can Get Together”
“We Can Get Together”
Next to the Replacements, no other rock act looms larger over the Minneapolis scene as Hüsker Dü. It all began when Bob Mould met Grant Hart hanging out at Cheapo Records, an insanely large record shop (there’s another in Uptown). The band got its name from a Norwegian board game. Figures: Minnesota has more Norwegians than any other U.S. state.
Heaven Is Whenever is out now.