Faces of First Ave sat down with longtime club-goer Stacy Schwartz to chat photography, sleep deprivation, membership, and lamentable 90’s style choices. 

What do you do on a normal life basis?

My main day job is working at McNally Smith College of Music. I teach in the Music Business department and I also work in marketing so I run all their social media – Facebook, Twitter, crap like that. I’m a photographer and an attorney, so I do some lawyer nerd stuff on the side for random creatives who ask for help. It’s nice, and hopefully people feel they can trust me because they know me through other things. It’s kind of like an easy transition when they want to talk about something that’s maybe bugging them or they need legal help but don’t really know how much to pay or where to go, because if I can’t handle it I’ll refer them to someone who’s not, like $800 an hour. And a lot of the times I can help so…

That’s cool! And for whom do you photograph?

I used to shoot a lot for Citypages and Vita.mn. I’ve shot for Spin and Pitchfork. Right now I’m doing a lot for McNally. I just redid a lot of the headshots for faculty and staff and I did a lot of their program pages and I’m doing just some other band stuff. I’ve had a few other people put in inquiries, and I’m doing some headshots for other professionals who need some help. I mean, you know how it is, it’s all kind of piecemeal. I still work at the Electric Fetus every other Sunday for four hours because it’s the Fetus and I love it, I can’t not be there. 

How did you pick and choose which shows to shoot?

Usually I’d send them a list of shows saying “here’s all the shows I want to shoot” but sometimes I did get assigned things, too. But as far as shooting photos… I mean, I love Fleet Foxes and their show in the Entry was awesome and I loved shooting it, but there’s only so many pictures of a bearded dude and a guitar you can get. But then you shoot Gwar, who I don’t listen to on my own, and I’d go to a Gwar show any day of the week because they’re so fun. And their fans are so nice and so sweet. I’d be like “I have my camera, do you mind…” and they’d be like, “Oh yeah, where do you need to go? Get in there!” and they’d push me up. Usually the metal crowds are awesome, whereas at Mumford and Sons I got punched in the head. Bros. Then they’d ask me where the bathroom was and I’d be like, “Please go away. You suck.” Of Montreal, the first time they played here when they extended the stage and he came out in a coffin full of shaving cream… that was interesting and really fucking weird.

Didn’t they also ride a giant buffalo one year?

It was a horse, I think.

Oh, I got the wrong quadruped… At any rate, I like your answers because they parallel pretty closely the staff’s answers. Eventually you stop caring for the things you put on in your house, and start picking the things based on the crowd and the spectacle; everything else starts to blend together.

Well yeah. There’s only so much indie rock with banjos you can do.

Yeah, even when you’re into that. Do you sleep?

A little bit. Not a lot. I mean, I’d at least get a chunk of sleep before, and I don’t now because my son, Fitz, is up. I actually go to bed a lot earlier than I used to, because I’ll go to bed before midnight most nights and before I’d never, ever do that, but Fitz is wide awake at 5:30.

That’s a neat part of the world to wake up for rather than still be awake for…

It kind of makes me want to stab myself. The good thing is Carl, my husband, is usually happy to get up and deal with Fitz in the morning. If he gets up at 3, I’m like okay. So I sort of sleep. Most people I know are doing eight million side projects, but it’s just kind of fitting in family with job with things I like. The nice thing is McNally’s flexible, like if I need to leave come here or get a haircut, I can do that. It’s not a huge deal and all my other stuff is side gigs. The only one where I have to be there is the Fetus.

That’s so funny! The record store is the most militant out of all of them! You’re also a member here, right?

I am. I think I’m member number 5. Let me check…

Since you’re friends some of the other members, do you guys get together and throw your cards down and have, like, status wars?

No. But, when it first came out, Kyle Matteson was totally freaking out about what number he got… Oh! I’m number 3!

Look at you, you made the podium!

Yeah! I think Kyle is number 1.

It’s true, he is.

But we don’t know who number 2 is. Do you know who it is? We were just being dorks about it, as you do, but…

I don’t off the top of my head. It’s a small coterie of people who all know each other… I mean, you’re here all the time! Of course you’d pay attention.

Yeah, it was super nerdy. And I was booking shows so I knew I could totally be a member and write that off. Except I never ever use my [free] member tickets. I always forget. It’s December 30th and I’m like “Oh yeah fuck.”

Well what was the draw of the membership initially?

Just supporting First Ave, really. I mean, I’m here all the time and I know enough people that work here and would like them to stay here and keep their jobs, y’know? And I’d like it to stay open, because I remember when they closed and that sucked. It was just really weird. So it was more of a support thing. It was almost like belonging to the old Minnesota Music Association that ceased to exist in 2007 or something like that. And it’s not like it’s $800. It’s very understandable as far as where your costs are being broken down. I’m cool with that.

Wow. No one’s put it like that to me before. So often it’s “Well what do we get” situation.

And yeah, that part’s great too. But three-fourths of the time I forget about it when I go to the Depot or the Turf and I go home and I’m like “Oh yeah…” But it’s, what, like $4 at the most? I don’t care, it doesn’t really make a difference. I like getting the member gifts! Those are fun! And I’ve been to a couple shows where they had a member area roped off up top.

Do you remember what the first show you attended here was?

The first things I used to do was go to Danceteria, which was in 1991-92, whenever we had a Monday off of high school, because I was a freshman I’d always go with all the senior boys.

Ha! You.

I never did anything wrong! I’m still friends with some of them. But it was funny because they’d pick me up and I’d have jeans on and a hoodie and underneath I’d have on, like, red super short-shorts to dance and I’d change in the car on the way there. So whenver we had a day off we’d always go and that was SO fun. We used to dance on the stage and was basically open… and I was like 14. But once everyone graduated, my partners in crime were gone, I started going to shows every once and a while… I can’t remember which one was first but it was either No Doubt or Blur. One was in ‘94 and one was in ‘95. 

Oh those are good ones!

I think Blur was the ‘95 one because “Tragic Kingdom” hadn’t come out yet. But I remember Gwen Stefani had brown hair and had on big overalls and she didn’t weigh like 4 pounds she weighed like 40 pounds so… and I remember being really pissed off because I missed the opener because it was Goldfinger. Do you remember them?

I totally remember Goldfinger!

I tried to listen to that album the other day and it’s so bad! I listened to Goldfinger, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, all that stuff… But I didn’t make it and I went to Blur and that dog. opened, so I fell in love with them and I bought their CD here and it was probably the first merch I bought. I have that Blur t-shirt still.

I bet that’s so soft.

It is, but the thing that’s so funny about it is that back in the day, the style was so big… it’s HUGE. So I have this really awesome shirt but…

Even if the shirt is rad, you can’t account for taste backwards.

Any parting thoughts?

It’s funny. Now I think… Would I let my 14-year-old kid go to Danceteria? Yeah, probably. But knowing more about what it was like… I don’t know.

It was a bold and trusting move on their part.

Although I don’t think my parents really understood what I was doing.

But you also just said that you would probably let your kid do it even knowing., and you turned out well enough.

Yeah, we didn’t do anything too bad.

It made us who we are. Plus it set us up to get by on little sleep as adults.

Interview: Sarah Brumble