Local Current Blog

Where metal music matters: Post-Station-4, Mill City Nights and the Triple Rock are venues of choice

Real Friends perform at the Nether Bar in October. Photo by Alissa Reynolds.

Since heavy metal haven Station 4 abruptly closed for renovation earlier this year, Twin Cities metalheads have faced a major loss. After months of restless rumoring, in August management finally announced plans to turn the venue into a bar and grill that will likely cater more to fans of mainstream music.

Steve Bergquist, drummer for both Maeth and The Royal Veil, acknowledges it has been a tough void to fill. Under his pen name Hessian Hunter, Bergquist also contributes to the popular metal music news site, MetalSucks. Bergquist explains the St. Paul hangout was a sanctuary for the misfits of metal to come together. Their shows boasted traditional, old school, death and power metal bands uninterested in following the status quo. “That kind of scene really found a home at Station 4.”

“Losing a venue is never good, especially one that is hard to replace,” agrees Adam Tucker, owner and operator of Signaturetone Recording. “It’s a bummer they’re closing, but there are a ton of other venues that will have that kind of music.” Through recording bands, booking shows and playing bass for the Sextons, Tucker has been a bigwig in the local metal scene for over a decade.

For the touring headliner acts, one venue in particular now picks up the slack. “If you were a band that was going to play at Station 4, you’re probably going to play at Mill City Nights,” notes Tucker. “That’s definitely going to be the overflow spot.” Another no-brainer is West Bank’s gem the Triple Rock Social Club, which hosts predominantly punk and rock shows.

The smaller bands have found their way to Mill City Nights’ Nether Bar as well as the Hexagon Bar. For Tucker, attending these shows in smaller-capacity venues has been far from disappointing. “The Hexagon is actually one of my favorite places to see music in town. It’s just the right size where you can get right in someone’s face as they’re playing.”

House shows have been blowing out eardrums for decades, but the Twin Cities have undoubtedly experienced an increase in those shows over the last few years. “Many smaller touring bands would rather play to 75 people in a basement where it’s really high-energy and right in your face,” Tucker elaborates. With the only notice of the show being through social media or word-of-mouth, it creates an air of exclusivity. “There will be a flyer and the address will be ‘Ask a punk,’” Bergquist adds with a chuckle.

Aside from crowd-pleasing local and touring acts, Station 4 was also recognized for showcasing younger talent. These 16+ and 18+ shows have struggled to locate a replacement in the cities and now must venture out to The Garage in Burnsville. Bergquist is a south-suburban native and finds it odd retreating back to the venue he spent many a weekend in high school. “There’s a little bit of growing pain there in adjustments.” While they host some stellar shows, he finds it still “reeks of fermented teenage embarrassment.”

Although Station 4 leaves Twin Cities metal fans with heavy hearts, there is no shortage of optimism in this tight-knit community. “Metal is definitely not going to go away because the venue does,” Tucker assures. Bergquist sums it up best with a side of his trademark sass. “People predicted metal’s demise within 10 years of Black Sabbath coming out, and there’s no signs of slowing down. Someone will always allow horrible noise to take place on their premise.”

Selena Carlson is currently tackling a double major in journalism and music business at Augsburg College. In addition to writing, she is an avid enthusiast of all things banjo; biking; and breakfast for dinner. Alissa Reynolds is a photographer based in Minneapolis.