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First Avenue experiences partial ceiling collapse, three suffer minor injuries

by Staff

August 13, 2015

Last night, legendary Minneapolis club First Avenue experienced a partial collapse of the Mainroom's interior ceiling. The Mainroom was hosting approximately 750 fans for a show by Canadian hard rock band Theory of a Deadman; the adjoining 7th Street Entry was hosting a tour kick-off event for local bands What Tyrants and Stereo Confession that was attended by approximately 150 fans. Both spaces were immediately evacuated when the incident occurred shortly after 10:00 p.m., about 15 minutes into Theory of a Deadman's set.

Three victims were treated by Hennepin County Medical Center for minor injuries, reports the Star Tribune; there were apparently no serious injuries. Some video of the incident, which involved an approximately 90-square-foot section of ceiling at the rear of the Mainroom's house left, has been posted to Instagram. All reports from concertgoers are that evacuation was calm and quick in the wake of the collapse.

First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz told the Star Tribune that the club will be closed Thursday, with an inspection planned for Thursday morning. Planned Friday shows by Ginstrings (Mainroom) and Sam Cassidy, Charlie Van Stee, and Wild Age (Entry) have been canceled, according to the venue's website. At this time, Saturday night's sold-out show by Miguel is planned to proceed as scheduled.

“We're working with City Inspectors and structural engineers to discover the reason this happened and how best to reopen safely," said First Avenue owner Dayna Frank in a Thursday morning press release. "We're proud of our history, dedication to the Twin Cities music community, and the care with which we maintain the building. We look forward to reopening as soon as possible.”

KARE 11 reports that city staff began working with First Avenue staff at 7:00 a.m. to determine the cause of the collapse and to secure permits to take down the rest of the ceiling, which a spokesperson for the city inspector believes to be the original ceiling that was installed when the venue was first constructed as a bus station in 1936.

"Our thoughts and hearts are with those who were injured last night," said the venue in the press release. "First Avenue thanks our dedicated and professional staff for their quick response to the situation, and the Twin Cities community, which has offered an outpouring of support for First Avenue staff and patrons."

This afternoon, Theory of a Deadman released a statement that read,

As some of you may be aware or may have witnessed, there was a partial ceiling collapse during our show last night at the First Avenue music venue in Minneapolis. At this time, we have been provided no details as to the cause of the collapse. As with all our shows, our primary concern is for the safety of all involved; our fans, our crew, the venue staff and anyone and everyone else who may be in attendance. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who may have been injured or otherwise adversely affected by this unfortunate incident. Our sincerest thanks go out to the First Avenue staff, the Minneapolis Fire Department, the paramedics and all the other wonderful people who lent their swift assistance in helping others during the aftermath. We wish First Avenue a quick turnaround in re-opening the doors of their legendary venue. We look to returning to Minneapolis as soon as possible to play for our amazing friends and fans.

"I thought we did something wrong at first," said Noah Paster, who was playing the Entry with Stereo Confession at the time of the incident. "I never thought anything like that could happen."

Local Current contributor Cecilia Johnson reports that when the room was evacuated at 10:15, after Stereo Confession's fourth song, the crowd in the Entry were largely unaware of the Mainroom accident until they left the venue and learned what had transpired.

At 11:30 p.m. last night, Local Current reporter Andrea Swensson spoke with Kranz on-site at the club.

Andrea Swensson: Hi Nate. What can you tell me?

Nate Kranz: Well, a large piece of the ceiling, toward the back of the floor, somehow separated from the beams in the ceiling and fell, taking out the sprinkler pipes—which obviously compounded the problem because then we had water going everywhere.

Two people were sent to the hospital [HCMC] with minor injuries, I don’t know the exact nature of their injuries or condition, but I can tell you they left the building conscious and awake.

Swensson: Did this have anything to do with the recent installation of new lighting system?

Kranz: I can’t imagine it would have. The lights were hung directly over the stage, and this was at the back of the room. The lights were not even super heavy–and we had structural engineers here to complete the installation.

All of us, including the building manager, have no idea how or why this could have happened at this point. We will be bringing in professionals first thing tomorrow morning to assess the situation. At this point, the main things we’re concerned with are figuring out A) how long we’ll need to be closed, and B) the extent of the damage.

Swensson: The word on the street is that everyone was evacuated quickly and calmly. It sounds like your staff handled it well.

Kranz: Obviously the first thing we wanted to do was make sure we got everyone out, then did a bit of cleanup and surveyed the damage. We’ll know more tomorrow morning.

Swensson: Do you know how many were in the Mainroom tonight?

Kranz: I’d guess about 800.

Swensson: Thanks, Nate. We'll talk to you tomorrow.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.