The Twin Cities metal scene took a hard hit nearly two weeks ago when long-standing nightclub The Rock in Maplewood closed its doors. The news was abrupt as it came just a day or two before the Soilwork and Death Angel show on July 24. Many of the upcoming shows (including Soilwork) have been moved to Robert's in Mounds View. The Rock, although a bit out of the way, was a fantastic place for shows with a big stage, excellent lights, and a large bar. I've seen many great shows there and it will be sorely missed.
Reasons for the closure were financial. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a brief news item about it here, including a couple quotes from the owner, Brian Bauman. Sources have told me that The Rock either recently faced or was about to be hit with stiff increases in their liability insurance. While liability insurance may have been a contributing factor, the bottom line is that people are spending less money when they go out.
This now leaves Station 4 (St. Paul) and the Triple Rock (Minneapolis) as the only bars that regularly book metal and hard rock bands every month. It would be nice if First Avenue would start booking metal shows again, but their recent opening of a full service restaurant indicates that they are trying to diversify their sources of money. I also wonder about the effect that construction of the light rail train line in St. Paul is having on business at Station 4. Tanpopo Noodle Shop, located a couple blocks from Station 4 (amazing food by the way!), recently stopped serving lunch due to decreased business due to the construction. If you've been to Station 4 recently you know that parking in Lowertown is usually difficult due to less street parking because of the construction. Don't let this dissuade you from getting out to Station 4! Hopefully one of the many excellent concert venue bars will step up and help bring metal bands to town.
It's my hope that the closing of The Rock will remind everyone how important it is to support bars that host shows by buying drinks. Money is tight for everyone these days, but venues count on their bar money to make a profit from a show. Many (probably most) times the ticket revenue does not even cover the contracted guarantee money for the bands. If you're underage, buy a soda or two from the bar. Keep in mind that many bars are still trying to recover from the state-wide indoor smoking ban, and your support is essential for venues to continue to operate.