Celestial Voices Entertain at Red Raven

Iowa emo band Stars Hollow’s Red Raven show was bittersweet.

This past weekend saw the influx of college students returning to the Fargo-Moorhead area in preparation for a new semester. This time also signals a new invigorated year for the Fargo music scene, and the Red Raven Espresso Parlor started the year off with a bill that will no doubt prove hard to beat.

Iowa emo three-piece Stars Hollow brought alternative rock band Moonlighting along for a quick weekend tour, which made its stop in Fargo Jan. 5. For local support, the Red Raven enlisted the help of three Fargo heavy hitters: Home State, Grazing and Rounding Third.

A night of comeback kids, the gig marked the return of multiple Fargo favorites in the DIY scene.

Alternative rockers Home State opened the evening and with it kicked off their first show since July. The local five-member band has been likened to melodic punk band The Gaslight Anthem, drawing influence from ’70s roots rock and blending it with the grit of punk acts like The Clash. A band with three guitarists, Home State masters effective use of layering to add texture without feeling bulky or discordant.

Moonlighting made their Fargo debut as the second set to take to the carpeted stage. A much smaller band from Iowa than Stars Hollow, the band only has three songs currently available to stream. Despite a small pool of recorded tracks, Moonlighting is far from amateur. Vocals barely tread above the heavy waves of guitar, yet manage to be just bright enough to adequately break through the gloom.

Fargo pop punk pillars Rounding Third’s appearance at the Red Raven marked their first show since their September gig with Cascades and Last Friday. A band possessing all the expected elements of Midwest pop punk expertly executed, Rounding Third is destined for great things. The band released their first EP “What Are The Odds?” earlier in 2018. Front to back, it reads like the album of a hit Warped Tour headliner.

Grazing came out of their five-month album writing seclusion to play as a two-piece for the show. Founding members Mike Ruebke and Kyle Rust reassured fans they had not parted ways with their drummer Kord Maurer, explaining their third member simply had a prior commitment he could not break. The humorous set left everyone lighthearted and ready for the main event.

Stars Hollow took to the stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd as the last set of the evening. This being the band’s fourth time in Fargo, the Iowa natives saw plenty of familiar faces in the audience. Starting off with “Participation Award” from their first EP, the band then debuted their first single “Tadpole” for their pending full length.

It was after this high that the band introduced a low by announcing the departure of co-founder Jess Leadbetter after the completion of their album. “When that happens, I’ll be the only original member left and that makes me sad, but Jess is moving on to do his own dope things and that’s really cool too,” lead guitarist Tyler Stodghill explained. Leadbetter is returning to college to gain the skills needed to pursue his dream career fabricating special effects pedals for guitars.

The band ended their set by playing through their latest EP, “Happy Now,” which they recently released on 7-inch vinyl.

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