400 Bar sits on the corner of Cedar and Riverside on Minneapolis' West Bank, slumped up against the sidewalk it's the type of building you've walked passed a hundred time but still aren't quite sure what it looks like. Well I'm here to tell you it's red, inside and out. It hosts music nearly every night of the week and the drink of choice, or necessity guessing by it's price, is PBR tall boys for $2.95. That's right, they give you back the nickel.
The overall vibe on most nights can change with the band playing, but generally sticks to a solid demographic of 20-30 somethings indie-rockers/hipster crowd, throwing in some 18+ shows for good measure. Basically, the type that get excited about PBR tall boys for $2.95 but would totally down play it if you asked them. As far as a music venue is concerned 400 Bar has it's charms and it's flaws.
It's flaws are in it's design. The "stage area" as I've just named it, is the right half of the bar (when looking from the entrance) and the "get your beer and watch TV area" of the bar is separated only slightly by a half-ass white wall job, leaving the bright lights of the television and the witty, incisive conversation of the local patronage to pour over, some would say, rudely on to the dance floor of the aforementioned "stage area".
Despite this feng shui disaster, the place has a solid sound system and enough room on the dance floor for people to get excited but still have the feel of an intimate show. Also, not much of this matters when your bouncing shoulder to shoulder to Free Energy or Mates of State as the attendees of the 400 Bar did last Wednesday (Jun. 23, 2010). A show that sold out two days in a row and left crowds sweating in unison to Free Energy's new-millenia indie-rock/power-pop anthems and Mates of State's 60's revivalist, Camera-Obscura influenced, emo-pop croonage.
Lastly, the bar tends to attracts good bands, bands that will likely being playing bigger, better venues in a year or so and by that time all your friends will already know them and will make fun of you for getting really excited about your recent "discovery". So yes, definitely catch your indie-rock crush of the moment at the 400 Bar before they get all uppity and sell out with a Thursday night show at The Entry (a venue I will soon be covering).
Take this bar in with PBR tall boys, were you not reading the article? Also goes well when enjoyed in the company of a music-knowledgeable friend or two.
For more pictures of the show mentioned in this article click here