Tag Archive for: Fargo

Sunny War w/ Walker Rider and The Weeping Covenant

Doors 7 pm // Music 7:30 pm
$15 advance // $18 at the door

“I feel like there are two sides of me,” says the Nashville-based singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso known as Sunny War. “One of them is very self-destructive, and the other is trying to work with that other half to keep things balanced.” That’s the central conflict on her fourth album, the eclectic and innovative Anarchist Gospel, which documents a time when it looked like the self-destructive side might win out. “Everybody is a beast just trying their hardest to be good. That’s what it is to be human. You’re not really good or bad. You’re just trying to stay in the middle of those two things all the time, and you’re probably doing a shitty job of it. That’s okay, because we’re all just monsters.”
Extreme emotions can make that battle all the more perilous, yet from such trials Sunny has crafted a set of songs that draw on a range of ideas and styles, as though she’s marshaling all her forces to get her ideas across: ecstatic gospel, dusty country blues, thoughtful folk, rip-roaring rock and roll, even avant garde studio experiments (like the collage of voices that closes “Shelter and Storm”). She melds them together into a powerful statement of survival, revealing a probing songwriter who indulges no comforting platitudes and a highly innovative guitarist who deploys spidery riffs throughout every song.

It’s a style she’s been honing for most of her life, at least since she took her first guitar lessons and fell in love with music. “When I was a kid, I was obsessed with AC/DC, and I loved dramatic ‘80s guitar bands like Motley Crüe. Later, I was obsessed with Bad Brains, the Minutemen, and X.” True to the punk ethos, her first punk band, the Anus Kings, made music with whatever they had at hand, and what they had at hand were acoustic guitars. That made them stand out among other Los Angeles groups at the time, and today Sunny is the rare roots artist who covers Ween and can drop a Crass reference into a song (as she does on “Whole”). “I don’t really make music with a traditional roots audience in mind. I like weird music, outsider music, like Daniel Johnston and Roky Erickson.”

Even as she was developing a guitar style that married acoustic punk to country blues, those two sides of Sunny were already at odds. As a teenager, she began drinking heavily, which led to her dropping out of school. She played punk shows, stole and chugged bottles of vodka, and quickly became addicted to heroin and meth. For money she busked along the boardwalks in Venice Beach, recording an album to sell out of her guitar case and letting that self-destructive side win most of the battles. But “the body can’t handle both heroin and meth,” she explains. “When you’re young, it’s hard to gauge that you’re killing yourself.” A series of seizures landed her in a sober living facility in Compton, so emaciated that she could only wear children’s pajamas.
Music remained a lifeline, and she fell in with a crew at Hen House Studios in Venice, where over the years she made a series of albums and EPs, including 2018’s With the Sun and 2021’s Simple Syrup. Twelve years after she kicked meth and heroin, Sunny is remarkably candid about this time in her life. “Everyone I loved died before they reached 25. They OD’ed or killed themselves. We were just kids who didn’t have anyone looking out for us. You’re not supposed to know so much about death at such a young age. Maybe that’s why I write a lot about not taking shit for granted, because it always feels like something’s about to happen.”

Building on those hard-won triumphs of previous albums, Anarchist Gospel documents a moment when Sunny had finally gained the upper hand on her self-destructive side, only to watch that stability crumble. “I went through a breakup,” she says of the album’s genesis, “and I was still staying in the apartment that my partner and I had lived in. I had to finish the lease. I was really depressed and drinking a lot. I felt so isolated from everybody I knew. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. It felt like the world was ending. Then I got Covid.” Sunny admits she contemplated suicide, but instead she wrote a song, “I Got No Fight,” a muted, measured gospel number on which she sings that title like a battered mantra. It’s a moment of almost unbearable honesty, although fortunately she did find the fight in herself. “I was just having a tantrum really. A lot of my songs are just tantrums. But I did feel better after writing it.”
Once her lease in Los Angeles ended, Sunny moved to Nashville, where she was born and where she lived until she was twelve years old. Among the items she packed were demos for several new songs of heartache and hard-won hope. “I think the album is split between being a breakup album and being somehow uplifting.” She booked sessions at the Bomb Shelter to work with producer Andrija Tokic (Hurray for the Riff Raff, Alabama Shakes, the Deslondes). “I already liked a lot of the records that Andrija had made. As far as new stuff goes, a lot of my favorite albums were produced by him, so I thought we’d be a good match.”

Working with a small backing band, they captured a raw energy in these songs, although one instrument gradually dominated the music as they proceeded: her own voice and the voices of others trying to stay between good and bad. Most of these songs are call-and-responses with a small choir that includes Allison Russell, Jim James, Dave Rawlings, and Chris Pierce (her partner in the duo War & Pierce). Acting as the angels and devils on her shoulders, they alternately challenge her self-accusations or sympathize with her worries. “There’s so much singing on here. I didn’t plan for that, but I really like it. That’s why I thought it would be cool to call the album Anarchist Gospel, because of the choirs on these songs.”
Music assuaged her heartache and confusion, even the songs she didn’t write. Despite its title, her reimagining of Dionne Farris’s “Hopeless” is perhaps the album’s most hopeful moment: “I cried just a little too long,” she sings. “Now it’s time for me to move on.” On the sadder end of the spectrum is her cover of Ween’s “Baby Bitch”; showcasing her sly sense of humor, it’s a playfully melancholy kiss-off that features a choir of kids singing along as she tells an ex, “I’m better now, please fuck off.” It’s funny, but uneasily so: a joke that reveals something bleaker. “It’s such a great breakup song! You’re out there somewhere and run into your ex with their new partner. But you know who they really are. You know they’re being a bitch. There aren’t many songs that get to that kind of experience without turning it into a joke.”

As the sessions wound down and the mixing process started, Sunny got the worst news imaginable. “My brother called me and told me I should come to Chattanooga. My dad was in the hospital, and he wasn’t going to make it. I called Andrija and told him I had to cancel the session and catch a Greyhound. Instead, he insisted on giving me a ride. He drove me down to see my dad. I barely knew this guy, and he was doing this incredible thing for me. I don’t know too many other producers who could navigate that kind of situation.” That simple act of kindness helped her endure that astounding loss, even as the grieving process threw these songs into even sharper relief.

Because it promises not healing but resilience and perseverance, because it doesn’t take shit for granted, Anarchist Gospel holds up under such intense emotional pressure, acknowledging the pain of living while searching for something that lies just beyond ourselves, some sense of balance between the bad and the good. “This album represents such a crazy period in my life, between the breakup and the move to Nashville and my dad dying. But now I feel like the worst parts are over. What I learned, I think, is that the best thing to do is just to feel everything and deal with it. Just feel everything.”

Paul Cerar w/ Big Hank, Artificial Dopamine and LOUM

8 pm doors // 8:30 pm music
21+ // $10

Paul Cerar: Minneapolis bedroom punk
Big Hank: Esteemed punk rock party starters
Artificial Dopamine: Eclectic rock n rollers
LOUM: Fargo dark-wave/post-punk

Chastity + Botfly w/ Disappear Forever and Hanging Wound

Chastity: chastitysongs.com
Botfly: botfly.bandcamp.com
Disappear Forever: disappearforever.bandcamp.com
Hanging Wound: instagram.com/hanging_wound
Doors 7 pm // Music 7:30 pm
$12 advance // $15 DOS
The Aquarium, 226 Broadway, Fargo
Brandon Williams makes resonant songs that capture isolation and resilience. As the songwriter behind Chastity, the Whitby, Ontario musician has made three unrelentingly perceptive albums culminating in the cathartic Suffer Summer, which is out January 13, 2022 via Deathwish and Dine Alone Records. The LP caps off an album trilogy that showcases both Williams’ emotional range as a lyricist but also his boundless love of outsider music. His 2018 debut Death Lust pulled from Unwound and The Smashing Pumpkins as he grappled with mortality while 2019’s Home Made Satan dealt in world-weary anxiety and Hum-like atmospherics. But Suffer Summer is a meditation on happiness, channeled through powerhouse riffs and undeniably potent choruses, sung with Mineral and Jimmy Eat World worn on his sleeve. It’s an album that shows how healing and staying content is hard but necessary work.
Williams mostly wrote Suffer Summer throughout 2019 while he and his band joined acts like Fucked Up, DIIV, and Alexisonfire on tour. It was a fruitful and exciting period for Williams, who whittled down 24 new tracks to 10, taking several new creative leaps while penning these songs. Take “Happy Face,” the first song Williams wrote for Suffer Summer and his most autobiographical offering to date. Written as a tribute to his longtime friend who died of an overdose, Williams sings, “You and I were alive at the same time / I’m lucky for it / You showed me the Misfits and we sang Out ‘Last Caress’ / I’m lucky for it.” It’s raw and gutwrenching in a way that Williams has never allowed himself to be but writing about grief proved to be cathartic for him. “Until now I’ve always tried to keep an arm’s length away from the real-life content of my songs but on that song, I couldn’t,” said Williams. “It was just a needed tribute to him.”
For any artist, taking risks, trusting your intuition, and relinquishing control is a delicate balance but for these songs, Williams knew he needed to step out of his comfort zone by making his writing more collaborative. He enlisted one of Chastity’s earliest and most vocal supporters PUP frontman Stefan Babcock to co-write opener single “Real World” and LP highlight “When You Go Home I Withdrawal.” Both songs find Williams stretching his voice for surging choruses that are anthemic and immediate. “It was so great to work with Stefan: just his attention to detail, song structure, and everything,” said Williams. “He’s a legend and has pumped my tires so much in an actual practical way that has given me courage throughout Chastity.”
Babcock isn’t the only surprise collaborator on this LP. Alexisonfire and City and Colour’s Dallas Green appears as a guest vocalist on “Vicious Circle,” the emotional centerpiece of Suffer Summer. The song, which Williams co-wrote with his partner Ellis’ Linnea Siggelkow, boasts some of his best writing (“Borrowing an old feeling to cover the pain / Can’t keep memories of only the good things,”) and when Green joins to sing the second verse, it makes for the most transcendent moment on the LP. “After we put strings on this song it was just too damn beautiful for my voice,” said Williams. “Dallas’ voice reached right into that beauty. Recording this was the single most surreal and sentimental moment of the project for me I think, with how formative Alexis was for me.” Green also collaborated on the shimmering single “Somersault” in an unexpected way. “He sent me a voice memo called ‘Pumpkins?’ and offered it as a Chastity riff,” said Williams. “It was sludgy but we sped that up into this up-tempo, brighter verse riff that’d become this song: it went from ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ to ‘Today.’”
Suffer Summer was recorded throughout 2020 in fits and starts, with Williams returning to the studio to hone the LP. One song that came together during this time was the single “Pummeling,” another exercise in Williams expanding his creative palate. His touring guitarist Scott Downes sent him a deceptively simple guitar riff that required an uncomplicated melody. “‘Pummeling’ was a place I was afraid to go,” said Williams. “I’ve been so focused on my music being challenging, technical, and correct. But on this, I wanted to allow myself to go simple, out of my comfort zone.” The result is undeniably accessible but look below the surface of the welcoming hooks and you’ll find some impossibly dark lyrics. “Same thing every day / I run from feeling fucked til it’s jumping me,” sings Williams. This juxtaposition is where Chastity thrives.
Chastity started as a way for Williams to find community in his suffocating and isolating suburban life, his songs serving as an outstretched hand for like-minded people on the fringes. The long-lead single “Dying to Live,” encapsulates this ethos when Williams sings, “Another sick person just trying to get well / You, me, everyone I know.” Like all of his music, this song comes from his hometown, in these places graffitied with memories for him: pain, loss, grief, but ultimately acceptance. “We’ve all been sick this last year and a half: Everyone I know is feeling fucked,” said Williams. “We survive through each other, through being close with each other and finding community and a sense of purpose in our friendships.” Suffer Summer is both a validation and comfort that while the world might be irrevocably fucked, you’re not alone.

Thanya Iyer w/ Foxby (Bemidji), patchbaydoor and Divine Offering

The tight lil experimental show we’ve all been waiting for. Thanya Iyer joins Foxby, patchbaydoor and Divine Offering for a sweet gig at The Aquarium.

Thanya Iyer is an enigmatic songwriter who crafts sparkling experimental pop music. Her live trio, featuring Pompey and Daniel Gélinas, wields acoustic and electronic instruments as well as improvised projections to flesh out serene, spiritual compositions. Thanya’s music, coupled with visuals, empowers listeners to embrace mindfulness, aesthetic beauty and the interconnectedness of all things.

The Montréal-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist recently released the entrancing EP rest, born of the question: “who am I when it all stops?” With three years off from touring due to the pandemic, Thanya has taken the time to answer this, and the band is eager to explore vulnerability after a long period of intentional rest alongside audiences with their expansive, experimental, mantric alt-pop music.

Foxby (Bemidji, MN)
Divine Offering
doors 7 pm // music 7:30 pm
21+ // $10

ALL AGES: Scrunchies w/ Germ Circus and Crucial Tauntaun

Scrunchies is a Minneapolis, MN-based “post-everything rock n roll” trio that brings a loud and energetic live set, recalling the messy and cathartic energy of late ’80s grunge, art rock and post-punk bands with heavy and melodic rock scorchers and surrealist lyrics that explore the personal and political. They recently toured with Built To Spill, and their sophomore album, Feral Coast, is out now on Dirtnap Records + State Champion Records. Local support from Germ Circus and Crucial Tauntaun.


6:30 doors // 7:30 show
$10 // All ages!

Living Hour w/ Disappear Forever, patchbaydoor and Ouchie

Doors 7 pm, music 7:30 pm
$10 advance, $12 DOS

Living Hour is Sam Sarty, Gilad Carroll, Adam Soloway, and Brett Ticzon.

Someday Is Today, the group’s third full-length effort, features contributions from three producers: Melina Duterte (Jay Som, Chastity Belt), Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts, Snail Mail), and Samur Khouja (Cate le Bon, Regina Spektor).
Someday Is Today is Living Hour at their most pensive and longing. It was recorded over seven straight days during the depths of a Manitoba winter, with the band cocooned in sounds as the temperature hit -30 outside. “It’s a grind, and it’s incredibly challenging in a frustratingly beautiful kinda way,” Sarty says of their local environment. “It pushes you to keep going, to keep finding glimmers to move forward. A silver piece of wrapper sticking out a snowbank becomes your altar. The big grey sky gets me giddy.”

Sam Sarty’s lyrics – pulled from journals, iPhone notes, and napkin scribbles – come suffused with reflections on disassociation, human interactions with technology, and a poignant contemplation of life in liminal spaces.
The band’s sound grows to warm and earthy new perimeters on Someday Is Today with lush and generous instrumentation. The album thrives by keeping enough connection across its sonic and thematic palettes to feel like one cohesive world. The songs on Someday Is Today feel bound by something bigger than themselves; an energy that flourished in spite of it all, a human connection that grips just strongly enough even when pushed to its frayed, unreachable extremes.

Living Hour: www.livinghourband.com
Disappear Forever: disappearforever.bandcamp.com
patchbaydoor: patchbaydoor.bandcamp.com
Ouchie: instagram.com/officialouchie (first show!!!)

Night Jobs (Minneapolis punk) w/ Germ Circus, Big Hank and Pass the Flask

Gruff, cathartic Minneapolis bummer punk three-piece Night Jobs pays Fargo a visit with a little help from Germ Circus, Big Hank and Pass the Flask!

8 pm doors // 8:30 pm show
21+ // $10

SSSS #209 : Eon Jolt & SLiM – Road To Prairie Pothole

Sub:Culture Spring Summer Series
Doors at 9 PM
Eon Jolt
Open Decks
We are proud to be back. We are starting the Cult back up as a Monthly; Sub:Culture Spring Summer Series; SSSS, with open decks to start the night.
We have a new setup to give you an up-close view of what’s going on behind the decks. “Boiler room” style!

SUB:CULTURE is North Dakota’s premier electronic music monthly. Developed by our collective, the event began as Thirsty Thursdays. Over time a unique culture emerged at the events, a group of people devoted to the sounds of electronic music and the culture that goes along with it. Thus, Sub:Culture was born.

The event features resident DJ’s: Econ, Wissota, Dextrious, New Reign, Bwompster, SLiM, Eon Jolt, HeDawn and quarterly legend Woody McBride at The Aquarium in downtown Fargo, ND.
Each month during our Spring Summer Series we will devoted to different sounds, providing a showcase of genres from across the region and globe including drum and bass, techno, house and bass music.

Emo Night: Beach Bash at The Aquarium

Emo Night is back at The Aquarium in Fargo! With tickets selling out in just an hour last time, we have added presale tickets for this event.
From Hot Topic to Hot Tropic, Low Standards and No Direction are bringing the beach vibes to all your favorite early 2000s jams.

10 pm doors // 10:30 music
$10 advance // 21+

Mary Bue w/ Porch light, orange and Divine Offering

Doors 8 p.m. // Show 8:30 p.m.
21+ // $10
Mary Bue is a songwriter, Nada yogi, traveler, runner, vegan, retreat guide, and teacher based out of Minneapolis, often roaming this beautiful world. Named “Best Songwriter” of 2020 by City Pages, her newest album The World is Your Lover – produced by the Suburbs’ Steve Price – is a synthesis of her seven-plus releases, merging pianos and guitars, spiritual longing, and real-world sorrow. Her previous albums achingly express life in melancholy piano-poems. Yet, in 2015 Mary risked a genre switch to aggressive electric guitars, concise lyricism, and a nod to 90’s grunge. Prolific, lyrical, and sometimes crass, Mary’s performances are warm and laced with quirky humor and stories of her adventures (and mis-adventures). A survivor and advocate, Mary is often invited to perform and speak about her healing process surrounding #MeToo, which she shares in her song “Petty Misdemeanor” (The Majesty of Beasts, 2017).

Not one to bow to popular music trends, Mary has stayed true to her own sound, evolving and about to emerge, butterfly-like, with support from her new band collaboration feat. Steve Price, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Richard Medek, Shannon Frid-Rubin, Julia Floberg, Molly Maher and Crystal Meisinger with special album guests Alan Sparhawk (Low), Adam Levy (The Honeydogs) and Stephan Kung (The Suburbs).

In January 2020, Mary traveled to Rishikesh, India at the base of the Himalaya (where the Beatles and Donovan studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi). Studying Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound, she practiced Sanskrit mantras, lessons in harmonium, voice, and sitar (which she purchased and brought home, ha!), yoga asana, pranayama, meditation, and purification techniques to invite a pure vessel for deeper experiencing and creation of sound.
A prolific songwriter, Mary’s music touches upon archetypal themes of the human condition: love, loss, triumph, dreams, and the natural world. A longtime student of yoga and psychology, Mary weaves sacred subject matter into her songs, seeking of deeper levels of consciousness, and deep concern for the environment mixed into her real-world hue.
Support from:
Porch light, orange | facebook.com/porchlightorange
Divine Offering | facebook.com/DivineOfferingND