Photos: Twin Cities venues await the return of live music

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Daylight shines into the 7th St Entry through a square window on the door.
The entry of the 7th St Entry in Minneapolis in January 2021. The doorway is cordoned off, and daylight shines through the square window on the door. Signs encourage viewers to wear face masks and cough or sneeze into their elbows. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

It's not that venues aren't supposed to be empty. Most of the time, they are. There's a whole lot that happens before doors open. The day of the big show, the bar staff, janitors, roadies, handlers, bouncers, and performers see it. But we, the audience, aren't meant to.

Almost a year after crowds last filled these beautiful, quirky, often grimy rooms, they still feel wholly distinct from one another. From the cathedral-like architectural lighting of the State, to the quiet bustle of Icehouse's dining room, to the daylight streaming into the 7th St Entry...while strange and sad, it also – thankfully – feels only temporary.

Read more about the National Independent Venue Association and upcoming relief for music venues. Feature produced by Emmet Kowler and Cecilia Johnson.

12 Photos

  • The interior of the 7th St Entry. The empty stage is lit purple.
    The interior of the 7th St Entry in January 2021. The empty stage is lit purple, and the unused stools have been placed on top of the counters. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • A set of empty, yellow-lit stairs inside the First Avenue Mainroom.
    A set of stairs inside the First Avenue Mainroom in Minneapolis in January 2021. They're empty but lit yellow. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • The interior of the empty First Avenue Mainroom
    The interior of the First Avenue Mainroom in Minneapolis in January 2021. The dance floor, stage, and stools are empty. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • The State Theatre auditorium is lit, but the curtain-shrouded stage is dark
    The inside of the State Theatre in Minneapolis on Feb. 10, 2021. The auditorium is lit, but the stage is dark and shrouded by an enormous neutral-colored curtain. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Rows of empty red chairs are bisected by a patterned, lush carpet.
    A section of the main floor inside the State Theatre in Minneapolis on Feb. 10, 2021, as photographed from the balcony. Rows of empty red chairs are bisected by a patterned, lush carpet. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • The empty interior of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis
    The empty interior of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis in February 2021. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Unused mic stands are clustered together at the Cedar Cultural Center
    Unused mic stands are clustered together at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis in February 2021. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • The empty interior of Caydence Records & Coffee's live music room
    The empty interior of Caydence Records & Coffee's live music room in January 2021. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • The Mortimer's stage/floor are empty. A folding table holds piles of merch.
    The interior of Mortimer's in Minneapolis on Feb. 10, 2021. The stage and dance floor are empty. To the side, a folding table holds big piles of Mortimer's merch. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • The entry to the live music space at Mortimer's in Minneapolis
    The entry to the live music space at Mortimer's in Minneapolis on Feb. 10, 2021. The floors and most of the walls are made of wood, and miscellanea (a cutout of the Hamm's bear, a small wood table, and a dog water bowl) are strewn about. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Daylight shines onto an empty stage at Icehouse
    The interior of Icehouse in Minneapolis on Feb. 11, 2021. Daylight shines onto the empty stage. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)
  • Daylight shines onto Icehouse's stage and a bunched-up red curtain.
    The interior of Icehouse in Minneapolis on Feb. 11, 2021. Daylight shines onto the stage and a bunched-up red curtain. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

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