Curiocity: Meet Minneapolis’ New Music Venue, The Brick

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(credit: thebrickmn.com)

(credit: thebrickmn.com)

Sara Boyd Sara Pelissero
Sara Pelissero joined the WCCO web team in August of 2009. You can...
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A new concert venue opening in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District is poised to be the next big thing.

The Brick hasn’t even opened yet but with big names already on the docket, the venue is already seeing their share of sell outs. Not to mention, they’re set up to be the place for private or corporate events, weddings, receptions, launch parties, you name it. With a full kitchen and three full bars, it’ll be a new destination for downtown Minneapolis.

Joe Litvag, senior vice president for AEG Live – which operates The Brick – gave us some details about the new digs and how they’re hoping to be more than just a music venue.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the new venue.

A: It’s a flexible space. We plan on focusing on a variety of genres, rock, pop, country, comedy, R&B, adult contemporary, you name it. The whole purpose for us is to have a facility that’s really flexible in the marketplace and can welcome in a large variety of people. That’s kind of how we positioned it in the marketplace. We’ve been quietly looking for the right space to put our roots down for several years now. I saw this place, walked into it about a year ago and saw the condition that it was in and really saw the potential in it and went for it.

Q: It sounds like the building was built in the early 1900s. What can you tell us about the space?

A: In all honesty, I’ve tried to dig to find details on the history of the building myself and I really couldn’t find a whole lot. I found a lot of history about Butler Square, the building next door. But I couldn’t really find a lot of history on Butler North. I do know that it’s a converted warehouse space, all brick walls on the inside, high ceilings, wood ceilings, large stage, great sight lines throughout. One of the things that was existing when we first walked into this space, the way the space was built out previous it really extenuated the architecture of the building, and we wanted to keep that. So we made a point to not change anything regarding the look and feel of the space because it worked so well.

Q: What made you want to open a music/entertainment venue in Minneapolis?

A: Well it’s what we do. AEG Live is the second largest producer and promoter of live entertainment in the world. We’ve been involved with the city at Target Center for several years now and it’s always kind of been our mission that we wanted to create even deeper roots for our company in the marketplace. For us, on the live entertainment side of business, it’s really all about creating the steps in the marketplace for the artists so they can just kind of build their career and work their way up through the business. We felt like the hole that was missing (in this marketplace) was a 2,000-3,000 multipurpose facility in downtown Minneapolis that could be used for standing general admission rock shows and private and corporate events. That’s kind of the hole that we feel we’re going to fill with this space.

Q: Why The Brick?

A: (laughs) Well, we sat here one day several months ago, having a meeting inside the facility while renovations were going on and we were kind of trying to brainstorm to come up with a clever name. I always try to come up with a name that ties to the building but like I said earlier, we did a lot of digging to try and see what we could come up with interesting tidbits that could present us a great name. Nothing was popping up and we were kind of standing around looking at the space. And even looking at it now, all the walls are blonde brick on the inside. We were just standing around looking at these bricks and thought, “why don’t we just call it The Brick?” And it just stuck. Sometimes the most simple ideas can become the best and most obvious ones and that’s really what happened here.

Q: You already have a lot of big names coming through (some which are sold-out shows). Can you hit a few highlights?

A: Well, I think there’s a lot of them. We’ve been very fortunate to get some of the larger names on this level to come play with us, within our opening period. Obviously opening night on Monday nights with Jane’s Addiction was a huge for us. They’re trying to actually go and play larger venues on this tour but we kind of convinced them to do this more intimate show with us. I think that’s going to be an amazing show. I’m excited about Incubus and The Shins, Shinedown and Daughtry – you know, all of those shows are shows that would potentially play larger venues outside of downtown Minneapolis but we were excited we were able to get them to come play downtown.

Q: What kind of improvements were made to the space?

A: The space was … I have to give a lot of credit to the previous tenants of this space. It operated for a time as a Christian rock club called Club 3 Degrees. They really built the space out initially and they did an amazing job. They really thought of most of the things that I look for when I come in and create a space. We did make some changes. We reconfigured the entrance into the space, which actually gained us a good chunk of square footage in the venue. We added a more suitable box office, that gives us the ability to have the box office open on weekdays, during normal business hours. … Really, the other major thing we did was reconfigure the bar areas because as I mentioned, in its previous capacity it was a Christian rock club so it wasn’t really set up to sell alcohol so we had to reconfigure the bars to be able to do that. Aside from those things, new carpeting, fresh paint, minor aesthetic things, it was pretty much in move-in condition, which was one of the reasons why it was so appealing to us.

Q: So far, how has everyone’s first impressions been of The Brick?

A: Overwhelmingly positive. We have to get the doors open before it really sinks in with people. I come from St. Louis and that’s the “Show Me” state so I gather the same mindset up here in Minnesota. We have to show the people what the space is. Starting with our VIP party, our first show on Monday, and onward, I think when people see the space is open for business and the shows are playing and everyone’s coming and having a great time. I think that’s when word of mouth will start spreading. So far though, the feedback has been incredibly positive and a welcome addition to the downtown live music landscape.

The Brick is located at 111 5th St. N. in Minneapolis. For tickets, an event calendar and more about the venue, check out their website at thebrickmn.com.

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