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Kinky Jane's Addiction can't offset the Brick's opening-night kinks

  • Blog Post by: Jon Bream
  • March 20, 2012 - 9:02 AM

Sightlines aren't an issue on the first half of the main floor at the new Brick / Photo by Carlos Gonzalez

 

Which was greater: The opening night kinks of the new Brick nightclub or the kinkiness of headliner Jane’s Addiction?

The proudly provocative Jane’s Addiction, 1990s alt-metal heroes whose frontman Perry Farrell started Lollapalooza, featured two bondage babes, a madman who abused dolls (and cut himself with a knife) and general decadence and lasciviousness. That was to be expected.

The first-night snafus were not expected from the Brick, operated by AEG Live, the world’s second biggest concert promoter.

The new security guards were TSA-thorough, which was unnecessarily overzealous for a rock show attracting mostly 30- and 40-somethings who were well behaved. Couldn’t AEG call an audible and realize something was wrong with people standing in the rain for an hour to get into a club? The AEG poobahs seemed about as slow to adjust as the Vikings’ coaching staff at halftime. (Moreover, the doorman whom I asked a question was, in a word, unwelcoming.)

Hence, clubgoers entered in a foul mood as they walked through the too-small entry way, passed by the too-tiny one-window box office and climbed up the too narrow stairs.

With 2,000 rock fans, the Brick was so packed that traffic flow was an oxymoron. An even bigger issue is sightlines. If you weren’t on the front half of the main floor or leaning over the railing in the balcony, you couldn’t see the stage. (Does this sound like the same issues that Epic has? Hello.)

Good luck if you had to use the restroom. There are five urinals and two stalls total for men (between basement and balcony restrooms). That may meet city code but it doesn’t measure up to the facilities at First Avenue, Epic or the Myth nightclub.

If you want to buy a band T-shirt at the Brick, you have to snake down the crowded stairs to the basement to a small table in the corner. Merchandise was cash only.

Bands might complain that there are no on-site catering facilities and, because the Brick is attached to some daytime businesses, apparently no soundchecks can take place before 6 p.m. (which can sometimes interfere with the time doors are scheduled to open).

At the end of the concert, those same security guards who were in no hurry to get you into the Brick were suddenly aggressive about getting you to leave. Clearly, these neophyte guards were not trained at the First Avenue School of Crowd Control.

As I left the spiffy big-budget nightlcub, I couldn’t decide which analogy to use: Downtown Minneapolis needs another medium-sized music club like the Twin Cities needs another sports stadium (at least this venue is funded totally by a billionaire business) or if the Brick were a Broadway play, it should be shut down after opening night.

Don’t just take it from me. Here is what some clubgoers said after Monday’s concert and the letter grade they assigned to the new venue.

Michael Simonds, 39, Inver Grove Heights: "It’s like a smaller Epic. They failed at security; they pulled a TSA on me — everything short of a strip search. Anything good I can say is the light rail drops you off across the street." Grade: B

Jennifer Neitzke, 38, Coon Rapids: "The sound was great. I hope they can figure out how to tier it better and make the stage taller." Grade: C-plus

Troy Johnson, 42, Minneapolis: "They were ill-prepared for this kind of crowd. The flow is awful. I thought this was a professional outfit that ran this thing; they run Target Center and Staples Center [in Los Angeles]. I’m quite surprised. They’re going to have to up the ante to compete with First Avenue." Grade: D-plus

Heidi Kapacinskas, 43, Edina:"We tried four different sightlines with absolutely no success. This was incredibly frustrating. It was very claustrophobic, and I think somewhat dangerous. If things stay the same, I would not return." Grade: C-minus

The man in charge of the Brick, AEG Live senior vice president Joe Litvag, was as critical of his new venue as were the clubgoers. After the concert, he had a meeting with his staff to identify problems and propose solutions, and he plans to meet again with them Tuesday morning.

"We want to get people in faster. We can’t use the weather as an excuse," he said in an hourlong phone conversation late Monday night. "We have some sightline issues. We had upset fans and that doesn’t make us feel good. We want constructive feedback. We learned a lot. We’re making a long-term investment and we’ll consider any changes. We’re gonna make it right."

Litvag said the fire marshall was "pleased with us" and "the police gave us a good report but that doesn’t matter on the fan side."

Among the proposals discussed by AEG officials after the show were raising the stage, cutting down the number of tickets sold, improving video screens and changing the instructions given to security personnel searching patrons at the door.

Letter grade? "I’d give us a C," said Litvag, whose staff gave out two refunds. "We have to strive for an A. I’m a perfectionist."

How was the music? Pretty classic 1990s Jane’s Addiction, with a few new songs from 2011’s "Great Escape Artist" that fit in seamlessly. Drudgy/druggy sound, with eccentric theatricality from Farrell and wonderful rapier guitar from Dave Navarro. Of course, there were surreal accoutrements including two giant statues of nude women and non sequitur films.

Here is the set list:

Undergound/ Mountain Song/ Just Because/ Ain’t No Right/ Ted, Just Admit It/ Twisted Tales/ Been Caught Stealing/ Classic Girl/ Three Days/ Irresistible Force/ Stop/ Words Right Out of My Mouth/ Ocean ENCORE Jane Says

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