The Twin Cities area featured a lively music scene in the 60s and 70s. There was an established tradition of local labels and venues which featured live music. A scene started to coalesce in the mid-late 1970s around Jay's Longhorn Bar, and Oar Folkjokeopus record store. The first punk rock band from Minnesota was probably The Suicide Commandos. Their first single was released in 1976 and is contemporary with the Ramones. They recorded another single and an LP.
Along with Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, Minneapolis was a preeminent punk rock scene in the early/mid 1980's. Early venues included the Longhorn Bar, which hosted seminal Minneapolis punk band the Suicide Commandos and touring acts including The Police on their first US tour. Goofy's/The Upper Deck, which was located above a strip club just off of Hennepin Avenue, was a major spot for early hardcore, as well as Duffys, which hosted early shows by Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Nina Hagen, and others. Later, First Avenue and 7th Street Entry hosted all-ages shows for the young scene which quickly established itself on the map with local bands including Husker Du, The Replacements, Loud Fast Rules (later Soul Asylum), Otto's Chemical Lounge, Outcry, Skullfuck, Idol Threat, Rifle Sport, Man Sized Action and Red Meat, among others.
The legendary punk zine Your Flesh was based in Minneapolis, as was Urban Decay. Zinester Saint Vitus holds heavy sway from the era and area.
Independent record stores supporting the local punk scene include the original Northern Lights records on Hennepin Ave, Treehouse Records (formerly Oarfolkjokeopus) in south Minneapolis, and Cheapo Records in St Paul.
The early to mid-80s Minneapolis hardcore movement included both U.K sound-inspired leather punks and a large skate punk contingent, with Uptown Minneapolis as the heart of the scene. Both scenes hosted many garage shows for local and touring bands. The skate punks congregated at The Alternative Bike Shop (The Alt) in Uptown. The UK influenced punks earned the nickname McPunks for hanging around the Uptown McDonald's bus stop. The Minneapolis bus system, immortalized by The Replacements song "Kiss Me On The Bus", was the artery connecting punks from Minneapolis Southwest High School and St. Paul with a ride to 7th Street Entry, Northern Lights Music, and the recently closed Sun's T-shirt & Poster Shop.
Some additional bands from the mid to late 1980s era were Final Conflict, Skullfuck, Willful Neglect, and Outcry. Final Conflict released one 7" EP on local Reflex Records. Reflex was run by Terry Katzman, then manager of Oar Folkjokeopus and also released records by Hüsker Dü, Articles of Faith and two compilation tapes "Kitten" and "Barefoot and Pregnant". Skullfuck recorded a demo, but no known copies exist. Willful Neglect from St. Paul released two 12" EPs on Neglected Records. These were re-issued on CD in recent years. Red Meat was another hardcore band that only released a demo tape, although some tracks surfaced on the "Lung Cookies" compilation LP. Outcry released 1 lp and 1 7"EP, and were influential among the straight edge and skate punk crowds.
In the late 80s, along with the breakup of Husker Du and The Replacements, the original punk scene in Minneapolis diminished. During a Black Flag show in 1985, stage diving was banned at First Avenue. The skank dancing, stage diving, skate punk crew that drove the mid-80s positive punk scene evolved into rap and metal. The UK punks faded away, and new, softer, expansive bands emerged.
As the original Minneapolis punk scene faded in the late 80s, a homegrown widespread midwest rock ethic coalesced into what would become known as alt-country. Minneapolis became a leading alt-country scene led by The Jayhawks, with supporting musicians out of the old punk scene playing for Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, etc. In fact, Wilco played their first shows at 7th Street entry - closing the loop on 80s Minneapolis punk.
Original scenesters have continued the Minneapolis DIY ethic; birthing several late 80s skateboard and snowboard pros, new bands, radio stations (REV105), clubs, and indie business endeavors.
The late 80s saw bands follow the hardcore trend towards a more expansive and hard rock sound. Around this time bands like the Cows and Halo of Flies (Babes in Toyland) developed a sound that re-established Minneapolis punk originality, blending punk attitude with droning noise and distorted rock. Local label Amphetamine Reptile arose to champion the new style, which counted among its protagonists many veterans of the 80s hardcore scene.
In the early 90s, things picked up again in Minneapolis. The 7th St. Entry hosted regular hardcore matinees featuring a group of new bands with divergent styles that all seemed to get along and enjoy playing together.
Misery formed and provided a nucleus for what was has become an internationally envied crust punk scene in Minneapolis. Taking their influence from UK bands like Discharge and Amebix, Misery blended dark and heavy hardcore with an anti-authority political stand that was very influential on the future development of the genre.
The Scrods from Roseville, friends of Misery, toured the Midwest area and released a 7" single called Voyage into Hell, a humorous, but scathing, socio-commentary on the poor quality of communications between local metal scenes and hardcore scenes.
Blind Approach from St. Paul championed the new style of Straight Edge Hardcore popularized by New York bands like Warzone. They released two 7"s and toured the USA. Guitarist Matt Henderson went on to join Agnostic Front.
In the early and mid-90s the scene started to grow with quite a few new bands. By this point hardcore was fractured into several subgenres with sometimes competing political, ideological, and artistic viewpoints. Profane Existence Collective formed in 1989 and released records, produced a fanzine and has booked shows ever since. THD started as a radio show, but also was a house doing some basement shows and a record label as well. The Sonic Warp Collective took up booking all-ages shows for a while after First Avenue stepped back from doing all-ages punk shows.
In 1994 a group of local punks and hardcore kids (including Dan and Mandy of Profane Existence, Felix of Havoc Record, and Jason of THD, among others) got together to open Extreme Noise Records, now one of the nation's longest running DIY co-op punk record stores. The new store provided something of a center for a rapidly growing scene. Within a few months things really started to get rolling. Bands and fans began to share influences and contacts. A new DIY venue opened as the Studio of the Stars and hosted many shows during the summer of 1995.
Some former Minneapolis hardcore musicians have gone on to careers with other influential bands, such as Todd Trainer of Rifle Sport, now in Shellac. Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü has had a long solo career. Dustin from the Libido Boyz was in Snapcase for many years.
The Minneapolis hardcore and punk scene has a strong DIY ethic. Accomplishments have included community-sponsored venues to basement shows to an all-volunteer independent record store, Extreme Noise Records
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