Post-pandemic arts and entertainment bucket list

A list of what one A&E editor looks forward to in the F-M area

When it comes to the F-M arts scene there is a lot to miss.

It seems like forever since we have lived life and celebrated together. Everything from classes to happy hours now takes place virtually. People wearing masks cautiously keep their distance. Musicians and artists have taken to Zoom and Facebook and Instagram Live to interact with fans.

With many stuck in their homes, there has been plenty of time to reminisce on life pre-pandemic and make a list of things to enjoy once more post-pandemic. Below is a list of a few things I look forward to in the F-M arts scene once it is safe for them to return.

Outdoor show at Bluestem Amphitheatre

Great music under the stars is hard to beat. Since moving to Fargo for school there hasn’t been a year I haven’t taken in at least one show at the Bluestem. Whether it was laughing at John Rzeznik choking on a bug in the middle of “Iris” or drinking Thunder coffee and singing along to Robert Plant it is always an enjoyable experience.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s outdoors, maybe it’s how close you feel to the performers or maybe it’s magic but the experience of Bluestem concerts is something truly special. Concerts at the amphitheatre almost feel like a fireside jam with your favorite musicians. This atmosphere is the reason I look forward to the opportunity to attend another concert under the stars at the Bluestem Amphitheatre.

Tea and more at Red Raven Espresso Parlor

The Red Raven Espresso Parlor combines two of my favorite things– coffee and music– but it is actually their tea that I miss the most. Their loose leaf tea offering is full of variety and they come up with some great seasonal tea lattés. A personal favorite is dubbed The Moon & Antarctica and involves coconut syrup and crushed candy cane. It may sound weird on paper, but in a cup, it oddly works. If you ask nicely they may actually make it for you when it isn’t on the menu.

The Red Raven also functions as an all-ages music venue that also hosts their own music festivals, artwork from local artists, weekly open mic poetry and more. Everyone from Maul to Tigerwine has played at the coffee shop.

Their old booths and couches are perfect for curling up with a drink and a book, or maybe one of their vegan dishes. It may not have the flash and glam of other F-M coffee shops, but the Red Raven is full of warmth and a sense of community that gives the place a charm all its own.

Take in the exhibits at Plains Art Museum

The Plains Art Museum brings in evocative and engaging exhibits to the F-M area from national and regional artists. It is conveniently located downtown and general admission is free. During the Christmas holiday, the Plains Art Museum even hosts noon concerts so people can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and enjoy some food and music.

During the pandemic, Plains Art Museum has provided a variety of virtual offerings including features on pieces from the museum’s collection, coloring pages created by local artists, art lessons, meditation activities and teacher resources.

The museum is also home to the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity offering classes for a range of ages in everything from painting to silversmithing.

The Plains Art Museum is perfect for killing some time between activities, taking a break from the hot or frigid weather, or even for a study break.

Pick up a High Plains Reader

When closures, cancellations and stay at home orders began to be enforced in mid-March, the High Plains Reader (HPR) went on a printing hiatus. HPR is a common sight in stands on campus and off in the F-M area. Its thought-provoking, artistic front pages grab your attention, while the content keeps you up to date on issues and events important to the F-M. Their Arts and Entertainment section is the section I look forward to the most, of course.

Pieces have been periodically posted online since they stopped printing, but nothing beats holding the physical product. I for one look forward to the day I can once again read its pages while enjoying a dessert from Nichole’s Fine Pastry or sitting in a coffee shop downtown.

Enjoy shows at The Aquarium

I don’t have enough fingers to count all the amazing shows I’ve attended at The Aquarium. The venue situated above Dempsey’s is great about booking shows in a variety of genres from hip hop to heavy metal and everything in-between. It not only offers great local and regional acts, but it also brings national and international bands to the F-M. In a typical week, one can find shows at The Aquarium at least three times a week.

The Aquarium has that classic music venue feel with its black walls, low ceiling and small square footage. Shows here blur the line between the musicians and the audience, as you may end up standing next to or having a conversation with a band member watching the gig before their set.

While most of the shows are 21+, the venue does have the occasional all-ages show, including the annual New Direction Fest, held each year in March. For those over 21, The Aquarium has a bar at the back offering mixed drinks and brews. It is also handy that food ordered downstairs at Dempsey’s can be brought up to enjoy.

Finding a new book at Zandbroz Variety

As the name suggests, Zandbroz Variety sells a lot more than books. Everything they sell is amazing, but I especially appreciate their bookstore section. The books are ordered by genre (history, fiction, nonfiction, etc.) but it can still feel like a scavenger hunt to find a specific title.

This makes Zandbroz perfect for discovering a new favorite book. I recommend picking a genre and pulling out some interesting titles to find a book you may not have otherwise known about. In addition to their stock of new books, Zandbroz also offers used books to peruse in a separate room.

Add in complimentary coffee while you browse and you could spend a considerable amount of time gazing at the store’s selection.

Blues, brews and blue skies

Local brews and national blues acts come together at Newman Outdoor field every summer for the Fargo Blues Festival. It’s a fun, laid back way to take in a day of music. All you have to do is plant your lawn chair, grab a Drekker Electric Viking or perhaps a Fargo Brewing Kenny’s Lemonade (or a nonalcoholic beverage if you are under 21) and sit back and enjoy.

Catch a movie at the Fargo Theatre

The Fargo Theatre marquee is one of the city’s most iconic and immediately recognizable landmarks. The charm continues inside where staircases on either side lead up to the balcony level of Theatre #1.

While little distinguishes Theatre #2 from any other movie theatre, Theatre #1 maintains an impressive vintage style that is simultaneously reminiscent of Art Deco and futuristic 80s styles. The balcony offers great views during one of the multiple concerts that the Fargo Theatre hosts.

The Fargo Theatre is the home of multiple film festivals and is known to bring in movies not shown at the bigger theatres in the area, adding extra incentive to take in a movie at this iconic downtown spot.

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