While many took to the roads and airports over the long Thanksgiving break, the Fargo music scene filled the weekend with a slew of notable shows. Here is the rundown of all that you missed.
Wednesday, Nov. 21
Sub:Culture is the weekly electronica showcase that takes place every Wednesday at the Aquarium. The Eve of Thanksgiving was no exception, with the 129th installation of the event. Featuring sets from Jordash, Dextrious and DJ Guy Jean, Sub:Culture acted as a fitting kickoff to the week’s festivities.
Black Friday, Nov. 23
For the third consecutive year, regional favorite Mason Jennings returned to Fargo for a concert on the shopping holiday. Opening for Jennings at the Sanctuary Events Center was Fargo alternative coffeehouse artist Lacey Guck.
A spectacled Guck played through songs from her EP “Will Play for Coffee,” which were mainly upbeat tunes on a Yamaha keyboard. She originally planned to play two tracks on acoustic guitar, however, she gave up on tuning the guitar for her second song ironically titled “I’m a Mess.” Laughing, Guck returned to the comfort of the keys to play the unrehearsed “Here’s to my Exes,” a tongue-in-cheek journey through her past relationships, as her current boyfriend sat at the sound booth.
After Guck took her final bow, Jennings entered the stage amidst enthusiastic applause. The artist wasted no time, burning through 15 songs from all over his 20-year career as a musician.
Earlier this year, Jennings released his 14th studio album, “Songs From When We Met,” and told the audience the story of his stay on a farm in northern Minnesota during the writing process. “There was this beautiful old growth forest on the edge of the property that I would take walks in,” Jennings said. “It was the middle of the day, but there was always this owl that would greet me.” Jennings explained the owl served as an inspiration for the following song.
Not surprisingly, the audience wasn’t going to let Jennings off easy, calling him out for an encore immediately after his regular set. Jennings played three songs, ending on the 2004 groove “Keepin’ It Real.”
Saturday, Nov. 24
Small Business Saturday was a busy day at the Aquarium with two shows in one evening. The early show started at 7 p.m. with locals Wild Amphora and Baltic to Boardwalk opening the night for Ontario act Chastity.
Wild Amphora opened the night in their first show in a while. The band has been diligently working on a second album and played a few of the unreleased tracks along with songs from 2016’s “Roadkill Parade.” The post-rock alternative Fargo band is known for their two-toned echoing guitar reminiscent of Tree Adams’s work for the 2008 movie “Keith.” Complex arrangements set the emotional as well as sonic landscape. The vocals simply add more context to the tales told throughout their work.
Regional staples Baltic to Boardwalk took up the middle slot with their always explosive post-hardcore sound. Vocalist Ryan Hoffart made an impassioned plea to those in attendance, citing the importance of supporting everything local and exiling big corporations at the beginning of the band’s set. Like Wild Amphora, Baltic to Boardwalk is also currently working on new music, playing through two brand new songs to the delight of fans.
The early show concluded with the shoegaze indie rock of Chastity. The one-man act of suburban Ontario resident Brandon Williams was fresh off tour with Deafhaven and DIIV earlier this month. His quiet humble demeanor shines through his work, which spans the spectrum of emotion, from pensive doubt to angry resilience.
The following late show was a 180 from its predecessor, featuring an all DJ set with locals Kid-O and Lick Narson and Minneapolis based Lucy Luxe. Kicking off at 10 p.m., the party was just getting started downtown at the Aquarium, as it was turned into a high-energy club.
Sunday, Nov. 25
The Aquarium kept rolling through the weekend with a four-set show Sunday night. Parliament Lite opened the evening with their electronic vaporwave music, a precursor for the main event Look Vibrant.
Local punk surf rock band SuperCruiser followed soon after. The four-piece has gained a sizable regional following, considering they only have a five-track EP. The band’s music is full of dynamic movements and lyrics sympathetic with the struggling 20-something.
In a refreshing break from the usual procedure of the traveling band, Look Vibrant took the stage before Bismarck’s Many Months Left. The Montreal experimental pop group has opened for big name acts like Anderson .Paak and Alvvays. The synthesizer heavy soundwaves combined with high-pitched dreamy vocals are a trademark of Look Vibrant.
Bismarck based Many Months Left ended the night with their brand of math rock. They not only played through their EP “Open Windows on the Top Floor of My Childhood Home,” but also debuted multiple new tracks the band is currently working on. They even admitted one track they played was not quite finished.