After a lot of noise going into its opening, the Fillmore era in Minneapolis began on a relatively quiet note Wednesday.
The kickoff show at the North Loop area concert space — probably the most ambitious and expensive music venue to open in town since Orchestra Hall’s makeover — turned out to be a special acoustic performance by acclaimed folk-rocker Brandi Carlile. Fans will have to wait until Carlile’s next two shows Thursday and Friday to hear the new sound system tested at full volume.
Carlile was nonetheless greeted like a rock star, and so was the Fillmore for the most part.
“It looks clean and beautiful, and you can see the stage well even in the back,” raved Jake Krey of Richfield, whose only complaint was widely shared after fans waited in a long line to get inside during a subzero windchill. “You can tell they aren’t from here.”
“They” is the Fillmore’s Los Angeles-based owners, Live Nation. The company, which also owns Ticketmaster, has opened eight other Fillmores around the country based on San Francisco’s legendary 1960s rock haven of the same name.
Live Nation built the 1,850-person Minneapolis Fillmore from the ground up at 525 N. 5th St. in the North Loop. A 160-room Element by Westin hotel adjoins the venue along with a trendy burger joint, Trax — all part of a $45 million development spearheaded by the Twins-owning Pohlad family’s United Properties.
The Fillmore loudly signals a new level of competition for locally owned venues such as First Avenue.
Fans joked Wednesday about a rather tongue-twisty naming-rights deal on display at the venue; it’s officially now the Fillmore Presented by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.
“That sort of takes the cool out of it,” said Kevin Dooney of Bloomington, who otherwise sounded impressed as he stood under the chandeliers on the large general-admission dance floor.
“It has a lot of character, like it’s been around a long time.”
Performing with just her twin bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth, Carlile marveled at how long they’ve been coming to Minneapolis — “20 [bleeping] years!” — and at how exciting it was to inaugurate the venue, whose acoustics seemed pristine.
“I love this room! It just feels right!” Carlile hollered midway through her two-hour set, which included the hits “The Eye,” “Sugartooth” and “The Story” as well as oldies “Follow” and “What Can I Say” and an ultra-warm cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.”
Perched at one of the primo tables in the VIP-centric balcony, Peter Shortridge and Amy Nankivil drove up from Winona for the big night and found it convenient for out-of-towners. “Our hotel, dinner and show were all here in the same place,” Shortridge said, adding of their pricey seats, “It’s worth it for an experience like this.”
Wednesday’s tickets started around $90 and went past $500, emblematic of how Live Nation adjusts prices based on demand.
Some of the other higher-buck names on the Fillmore’s calendar in the coming weeks include Bob Weir, Buddy Guy and Evanescence.