Local Current Blog

Midwest Music Museum brings the feel of a living-room show to the Mall of America

photos by Jay Gabler

“We’ve played in a lot of strange spaces and strange places,” said Kate Tucker, “and it’s nice to play for a bunch of faces that are looking right back at you, instead of staring out through a whiskey haze.”

The Monday night show by Tucker and her band the Sons of Sweden was one of the first gigs held at the Midwest Music Museum, which has alternately been called the “400 Gallery” in acknowledgement of the fact that it’s under the umbrella of the new establishment run by the owners of the former 400 Bar on the fourth floor of the Mall of America.

Original plans were for a new music venue, bar, and restaurant to be open in time for the Denny Laine show booked on August 1, but those plans have now been postponed indefinitely. In the interim, shows are being held in a gallery of the Midwest Music Museum—a showcase for traveling music exhibits that’s currently housing Beatles memorabilia. Standing amid photos of the Beatles’ Metropolitan Stadium show, Tucker said, “this is perfect, because we can pretend we’re playing Shea Stadium.”

The Laine show is still on for Friday; according to the venue’s Twitter, advance tickets are sold out, but a few will be available at the door. No additional shows at the venue have yet been announced.

With doors at 8 p.m. and an opening act on the bill last night, I’d mistakenly assumed that conventional club timing would have the headliners starting around 10 p.m., and arrived shortly after 9:30 to find Tucker and the Sons of Sweden nearly finished with their set. I settled on the carpeted floor among a few dozen listeners who were raptly attending to Tucker’s high-octane indie rock. After concluding with the rousing single “Blue Hotel,” Tucker thanked the crowd and walked over to the merch table to meet her fans.

I was sitting next to a few teenage girls, and I asked what had brought them out to the Mall on a Monday night. “We’re with the openers,” they said, indicating the young members of Upstairs Bouncers. It occurred to me that the Music Museum space could be a success as a venue for the underserved local all-ages scene.

The 400’s Joe O’Brien observed that the venue is currently in the intimate, DIY spirit of SXSW in its early days. The 400 Gallery doesn’t serve drinks, but O’Brien gestured across the hall at Cantina #1. “There’s even Mexican beer, right over there.”

Photos by Jay Gabler/MPR