Mississippi Nights was a St. Louis nightclub that featured live music. It was open from 1979 to 2007.
Mississippi Nights stood at 914 1st Street, on Laclede’s Landing. Originally a country venue, it is primarily remembered as a rock club, particularly for hosting modern rock, both national and local acts.
Mississippi Nights was owned and operated by Rich Frame, who bought and converted a warehouse in 1979. At first it mostly hosted country music, but they booked rock acts when they could.
“One of the first concerts of note we did was Gene Loves Jezebel. It drew a heavy crowd, but they were nice, there were no fights and we made good money. We thought, ‘We need to do more of this. (The heck with) that cowboy stuff,'” Frame said in 2007.
The initial capacity was 600 people. In 1988, they bought an adjacent building and were able to increase capacity to 1,000.
Bands of all types played in Mississippi Nights. It was the best place to catch up and coming acts in a small venue before they came back and played The Arena, or later, Riverport Amphitheater, but it was also a place for has-beens, flashes in the pan, and arguably some never wheres. That’s how it goes with small venues.
Bands who played Mississippi Nights
In the sort of pre-alternative, post-New Wave era, it was the only place in town you could hear new music until KPNT went on the air in 1993. Well, unless you count the low-power stations on KCFV 89.5 and KYMC 89.7, but those stations had very limited range of only about 15 miles.
Nirvana played there on October 16, 1991. It went great until security got rough with some fans and Kurt Cobain reacted by inviting the 1000 onlookers on stage. It nearly became a riot. Ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl still retells the story every time his post-Nirvana band, the Foo Fighters, play St. Louis.
But it wasn’t just modern rock-type bands who played there. Yes, Mississippi Nights hosted the Ramones, Iggy Pop, the Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, kd lang, Alanis Morrissette, and Ziggy Marley, among others. But they also hosted Joe Cocker, 2 Live Crew, Vanilla Ice, Chuck Berry, and Ike Turner.
And when national acts weren’t playing, sometimes you could pick up a local act there. There was plenty of competition nearby for local bands, but you could catch the likes of Pale Divine and Uncle Tupelo playing there.
And when local bands such as Pale Divine, Fragile Porcelain Mice, and The Urge would play their now legendary Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve shows, Mississippi nights was usually one of the venues involved. Gen Xers would come home for the holidays, and go out those two nights, and it was something of an overgrown reunion.
What happened to Mississippi Nights
But redevelopment always loomed. The city always wanted to knock it down and put something else in its place. An aquarium. A casino. In the mid 1990s, Laclede’s Landing went into decline and the spirit of cooperation became something less, a fate similar to what happened at Gaslight Square a generation earlier.
And then The Pageant opened on the Delmar Loop in 2000, cutting way down on the number of concerts, at least for a time. Eventually things recovered, but the city of St. Louis wanted its casino, and there was no shortage of people who wanted to build it. Building a casino was the thing to do–in the early 2000s, about the only thing that could stop the construction of a casino in or near St. Louis was the presence of human remains rumored to still be contagious. Otherwise there’d be a casino on the site of the old Koch Hospital now as well. We did get one on a hazardous waste site next to a sewage treatment plant.
Eventually the city got its way, and Mississippi Nights had to close to make way for a casino. Its last show was January 19, 2007. Fittingly, the last national act to play Mississippi Nights was The Bottle Rockets, an alt-country band with local connections that was very much influenced by Uncle Tupelo.
It was the end of a 28 year run. Soon Mississippi Nights fell to the wrecking ball, and Lumiere Place casino stands on its former site.