It was an historic evening at the First Avenue Mainroom as dozens of musicians from the early punk rock and new wave scene converged to celebrate the short-lived but high-impact Longhorn Bar. Open for a few years in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the Longhorn was “a little bit like CBGB with Cheers mixed into it,” as the reunion show’s organizer Sharon Samels put it.
It was the first place where influential bands like Blondie, Television, the B-52s, Elvis Costello, and countless others made their mark on the Twin Cities, and it was a breeding ground where forward-thinking and creative rock bands like Flamingo (who would later become the Flamin’ Ohs), the Suicide Commandos, the Suburbs, and Curtiss A’s Thumbs Up could try out their original material and connect with the growing underground scene.
Saturday night’s show in the Mainroom had a congenial and celebratory vibe, and the audience was clearly taken on a trip down memory lane hearing old favorites like the Commandos’ “Burn it Down” and the Suburbs’ “Baby Heartbeat,” sung by the band’s drummer Hugo Klaers. Suburbs bassist Michael Halliday made a highly anticipated return to the stage for the reunion, and the night was also a homecoming for Peter Jesperson, who DJed at the Longhorn before launching Twin/Tone Records and going on to manage a band who made their debut at the old venue, the Replacements.
All photos from the Longhorn Reunion at First Avenue are by Steven Cohen.