The Twin Cities area featured a lively music scene in the 60s and 70s that included an established tradition of local indie labels and live music venues. The Litter were one of the protopunk bands to emerge from the scene in 1966. Their heavily distorted guitar amplifiers played a high volumes became the signature sound for many punk bands that emerged much later. A punk rock scene started to coalesce in the mid-late 1970s around Jay's Longhorn Bar, and Oar Folkjokeopus record store. The first recognized punk rock band from Minnesota was The Suicide Commandos, who formed in 1975. Their first 7" EP was released in 1976. They released another 7" EP in 1977 before recording their LP later that year on Blank Records, a sub-label of Mercury Records.
Along with Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, Minneapolis was a preeminent punk rock scene in the early/mid-1980s. Early venues included the Longhorn Bar, which hosted seminal Minneapolis punk band the Suicide Commandos and touring acts including The Police on their first US tour. Goofy's/The Upper Deck, which was located above a strip club just off of Hennepin Avenue, was a major spot for early hardcore and presented popular all-ages shows, as well as Duffys, which hosted early shows by Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Willful Neglect, Nina Hagen, and others. Goofy's/Upper Deck was closed after a riot in 83' at a show which Final Conflict headlined. First Avenue and 7th Street Entry also hosted all-ages shows for the young scene which quickly established itself on the map with local bands including Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Final Conflict, Loud Fast Rules (later Soul Asylum), Otto's Chemical Lounge, Outcry, Skullfuck, Idol Threat, Rifle Sport, Man Sized Action and Red Meat, among others.
The legendary punk zine Your Flesh by Ron Clark and Peter Davis was based in Minneapolis, as was Urban Decay. Zinester Saint Vitus holds heavy sway from the era and area.
Independent record stores supporting the local punk scene include the original Northern Lights records on Hennepin Ave, Treehouse Records (formerly Oarfolkjokeopus) in south Minneapolis, and Cheapo Records in St Paul.
The early to mid-80s Minneapolis hardcore movement included both U.K sound-inspired leather punks and a large skate punk contingent, with Uptown Minneapolis as the heart of the scene. Both scenes hosted many garage shows for local and touring bands. The skate punks congregated at The Alternative Bike Shop (The Alt) in Uptown. The UK influenced punks earned the nickname McPunks for hanging around the Uptown McDonald's bus stop. The Minneapolis bus system, immortalized by The Replacements song "Kiss Me On The Bus", was the artery connecting punks from Minneapolis Southwest High School and St. Paul with a ride to 7th Street Entry, Northern Lights Music, and the recently closed Sun's T-shirt & Poster Shop.
Some of the bands from the early to late 1980s era were Final Conflict, not the California band of the same name, Skullfuck, Willful Neglect, Misery, Iron Fist, and Outcry. Final Conflict released one 7" EP "In the Family" on local Reflex Records. Reflex was run by Terry Katzman, then manager of Oar Folkjokeopus and also released records by Hüsker Dü, Articles of Faith and two compilation tapes "Kitten" and "Barefoot and Pregnant". Skullfuck recorded a demo, but no known copies exist. Willful Neglect from St. Paul released two 12" EPs on Neglected Records, these were re-issued on CD in recent years; Wade Calhoon & James Wallin (of Willful Neglect) are recording a new album under the title "Made In The Shade" due to release in November 2014. Red Meat was another hardcore band that only released a demo tape, although some tracks surfaced on the "Lung Cookies" compilation LP. Outcry released 1 lp and 1 7"EP, and were influential among the straight edge and skate punk crowds.
In the late 80s, along with the breakup of Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, the original punk scene in Minneapolis diminished. During a Black Flag show in 1985, stage diving was banned at First Avenue. The skank dancing, stage diving, skate punk crew that drove the mid-80s positive punk scene evolved into rap and metal. The UK punks faded away, and new, softer, expansive bands emerged.
As the original Minneapolis punk scene faded in the late 80s, a homegrown widespread midwest rock ethic coalesced into what would become known as alt-country. Minneapolis became a leading alt-country scene led by The Jayhawks, with supporting musicians out of the old punk scene playing for Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, etc. In fact, Wilco played their first shows at 7th Street entry - closing the loop on 80s Minneapolis punk.
Original scenesters have continued the Minneapolis DIY ethic; birthing several late 80s skateboard and snowboard pros, new bands, radio stations (REV105), clubs, and indie business endeavors.
The late 80s saw bands follow the hardcore trend towards a more expansive and hard rock sound. Around this time bands like the Cows and Halo of Flies (Babes in Toyland) developed a sound that re-established Minneapolis punk originality, blending punk attitude with droning noise and distorted rock. Local label Amphetamine Reptile arose to champion the new style, which counted among its protagonists many veterans of the 80s hardcore scene.
In the early 90s, things picked up again in Minneapolis. The 7th St. Entry hosted regular hardcore matinees featuring a group of new bands with divergent styles that all seemed to get along and enjoy playing together.
Misery formed and provided a nucleus for what has become an internationally envied crust punk scene in Minneapolis. Taking their influence from UK bands like Discharge and Amebix, Misery blended dark and heavy hardcore with an anti-authority political stand that was very influential on the future development of the genre.
The Scrods from Roseville, friends of Misery, toured the Midwest area and released a 7" single called Voyage into Hell, a humorous, but scathing, socio-commentary on the poor quality of communications between local metal scenes and hardcore scenes.
Blind Approach from St. Paul championed the new style of Straight Edge Hardcore popularized by New York bands like Warzone. They released two 7"s and toured the USA. Guitarist Matt Henderson went on to join Agnostic Front.
The Libido Boyz from Mankato, MN played melodic and poppy hardcore punk and released several 7"s and LP and did some extensive touring.
In the early and mid-90s the scene started to grow with quite a few new bands. By this point hardcore was fractured into several subgenres with sometimes competing political, ideological, and artistic viewpoints. Profane Existence Collective formed in 1989 and released records, produced a fanzine and has booked shows ever since. THD started as a radio show, but also was a house doing some basement shows and a record label as well. The Sonic Warp Collective took up booking all-ages shows for a while after First Avenue stepped back from doing all-ages punk shows.
In 1994 a group of local punks and hardcore kids (including Dan and Mandy of Profane Existence, Felix of Havoc Record, and Jason of THD, among others) got together to open Extreme Noise Records, now one of the nation's longest running DIY co-op punk record stores. The new store provided something of a center for a rapidly growing scene. Within a few months things really started to get rolling. Bands and fans began to share influences and contacts. A new DIY venue opened as the Studio of the Stars and hosted many shows during the summer of 1995.
Some former Minneapolis hardcore musicians have gone on to careers with other influential bands, such as Todd Trainer of Rifle Sport, now in Shellac. Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü has had a long solo career. Dustin from the Libido Boyz was in Snapcase for many years.
In 1999 Twin Cities Skins and Punks (TCSP) formally formed and began helping promote local TC bands in the DIY scene and continues to work with the local scene setting up all-ages shows in multiple venues. Their goal, as posted on their site, is to make DIY hardcore accessible to as many fans as possible while maintaining the punk ethic of being against "The Man". - "This was and continues to be the all ages DIY punk rock scene, defined as a participatory subculture controlled by those who comprise it: the punks... We believe that packaged tours with no ties to the local punk community utilizing outsider booking agencies without sharing the stage with local acts ..., thereby fostering local growth, reduce their music to a mere product and represent the very antithesis of punk. TCSP banned together to combat these forces, keep influence over the scene in the hands of people with a vested interest in the music and movement, and provide a positive and inclusive alternative to the impersonal herding of the club scene." The Twin Cities continues to have a strong DIY ethic in its still rich underground punk scene and continues to reject mainstream commercialization.
- The Triplerock Social Club The Triplerock is a popular hardcore venue in Minneapolis. It is owned by some of the members of Dillinger Four.
- NOFX's 2006 single "Seeing Double at the Triple Rock", from the Wolves in Wolves' Clothing album, is a tribute to the Triple Rock club where they also filmed the video for the song.
- The Beat Coffeehouse
- Memory Lanes Punk Rock Bowling
- The Hexagon Bar
The Minneapolis hardcore and punk scene has a strong DIY ethic. Accomplishments have included community-sponsored venues to basement shows to an all-volunteer independent record store Extreme Noise Records.
- Twin Cities Hardcore
- Twin cities hardcore journal zine/tv show/websource
- Urban Decay #2- 1985 punk zine (PDF)
- Urban Decay #3- 1985 punk zine (PDF)
- Twin Cities Punk Message Board
- The Minnewiki, a wiki of Minnesota music, featuring articles on dozens of Minneapolis hardcore and punk bands
- Post-funk rock rebels thrive in Minneapolis. New York Times. October 27, 1985.
- New Moon Rising: The Return of Eclipse Records. Pulse of the Twin Cities March 22, 2007.
- Organize and Arise! Minneapolis based punk and hardcore DIY forum