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Ben Melby, 34, production manager at Mill City Nights worked on the stage lighting. The Brick in Minneapolis has changed its name to Mill City Nights.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Jeff Kehr now thinks that the old club should have had a soft opening. Upcoming shows at the new club include Theory of a Deadman and Easton Corbin.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

The Brick gets makeover, new name

  • Article by: JON BREAM
  • Star Tribune
  • July 23, 2012 - 9:08 PM

The Brick needed some new mortar and other upgrades. The splashy downtown Minneapolis music club, which opened to such vociferous complaints in March that all first-night patrons were offered refunds, even ended up with a new name, too -- Mill City Nights.

The new moniker and completed makeover were revealed Monday evening in an invite-only reception.

The 1,200-person club has a taller stage, multi-level risers in the balcony and expanded entry doors. About 20 HD video monitors are set up throughout the three-level club. A second, narrow staircase was added by the entry way. Even the men's rooms added trough urinals.

"With the renovations, we wanted to go with a new brand," said general manager Jeff Kehr, in explaining the name change. "The name reflects Minneapolis history, and this is an historic building. We see no problems with the Mill City Museum."

Kehr said the venue is looking to attract weddings, sales meetings and other private events. But music and comedy are the main menu at the Warehouse District club, opened this year by AEG Live, the world's second-biggest concert promoter that also runs Target Center and the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Upcoming shows at Mill City Nights include rockers Theory of a Deadman, country upstart Easton Corbin and comic Jim Breuer.

The capacity of the nightclub has been trimmed about 30 percent to 1,200. That does not include the basement, renamed the Nether Bar, where occasional acoustic music shows will be presented. The venue has changed its website to www.millcitynights.com.

Kehr declined to say how much the latest makeover cost, but estimated it was close to the price of AEG's original renovation of the space, which had previously been a Christian music venue known as Club 3 Degrees.

The Brick opened with great fanfare in March with a sold-out concert by 1990s rock heroes Jane's Addiction. But the event was marred by inexperienced security, bad sightlines and overcrowding. Concert-goers protested so vehemently that three days later, AEG Live offered a nearly unprecedented refund for all ticket-holders. Kehr said about 90 percent of those tickets have been refunded.

In retrospect, Kehr thinks Jane's Addiction was both the right and the wrong show for opening night -- the right band to garner attention, but too big an attraction for a trial run.

"We weren't able to deliver the type of experience our fans were looking for," Kehr said. "We should have had a soft opening [with a lesser-known act] to get a feel for how the room breathed.

"Now we're here to say: 'Give us another shot. You'll have a different experience.'"

Twitter: @jonbream • 612-673-1719

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