The Fargo music scene extends much farther than the large national and international acts that pack the Fargodome. From a coffee shop to a converted Catholic church, there is always somewhere to catch great local or regional acts at a student-friendly price. As an added bonus, you often get to hang out with the band afterward without having to sneak your way past a bodyguard or pay an ungodly amount for a backstage pass. You get the opportunity to know bands before they blow up, and those are always cool bragging rights to have.
When it comes to music in the Fargo area, you can’t lose.
Located downtown above Dempsey’s Public House and next to the iconic Fargo Theatre, The Aquarium is arguably the hardest working music venue in the city. Drawing in local, regional and even national acts, it is a great place to see someone you may know or find new favorites. The Aquarium also books a wide range of genres, from freestyle rap to folk and everything in-between. How could they possibly make it better? Shows generally range in price from free to only $8 for four bands and happen multiple times a week.
Most shows at The Aquarium are 21+ due to the bar. However, they do occasionally host all-ages shows, including the annual three-day New Direction Fest.
Dempsey’s Public House
Just downstairs from The Aquarium is this local pub known for its soft pretzels and live music. Dempsey’s hosts many local acts, including local cover band Low Standards and resident Irish band Poitin. They also bring in bands from the surrounding areas on occasion. Most shows are on weekends, but the pub does offer live jazz 7-9 p.m. every Monday.
Follow Dempsey’s Public House on Facebook to see a list of current shows.
Red Raven Espresso Parlor
What adds to the charm and intrigue of the Red Raven is the fact that it is a place you have most likely driven past multiple times without even noticing. Located on Main Avenue directly across from McDonald’s, this understated coffee shop doubles as an all-ages music venue. While they book a variety of acts, the Red Raven is primarily known for hard-hitting music such as hardcore, post-hardcore and punk.
Not your cup of tea? The Red Raven also hosts comedy nights, spoken word events and is a big supporter of the local visual arts scene. Did I mention they also have great coffee, tea and vegan baked goods?
Follow their Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss out.
Sanctuary Events Center
North Dakota is somewhat known for its gorgeous old churches, many of which are now vacant. Here in Fargo, however, this gorgeous old Catholic church was converted into an events center. They host parties, weddings and you guessed it — music. Not too surprisingly, the century old church, originally called St. Mark’s, was found to have amazing acoustics. An intimate venue complete with balcony seating, concert tickets are sometimes sold by table (approximately $30 per table of four). Upcoming shows range from The Used to The Flaming Lips.
Their Facebook page gives updates on events and concerts they’ve booked.
Sidestreet Grille & Pub
Just on the other side of Broadway from the Sanctuary Events Center, Sidestreet Grille & Pub sits on the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Fourth Street North. Boasting the largest tap selection in the downtown area, the pub is also known for its great food and live music. Local bands such as the Pat Lenertz Band, Stovepipes and Jennifer Lyn & The Groove Revival as well as regional acts Black River Revenue and Hardwood Groove all have made multiple appearances.
Stay up-to-date by following their Facebook page.
This South Fargo bar and music venue is a great place to catch local country acts among others. The Windbreak also boasts the distinction of being the “most Uber-ed to” location in Fargo. State favorites 32 Below, The Roosters and The Johnny Holm Band all play the venue. If you do decide to drive yourself, extra parking is available behind the bar.
Follow their Facebook page and grab your friends.