Tracker Pixel for Entry

​The Fargo-Moorhead DIY Music Scene

Music | January 16th, 2019

Basement show at Grease's house, starring Hangtime - photograph provided by Fargo.live

Gary Ussery

“DIY ‘Til I Die!”
It’s the code that many in the Fargo-Moorhead live by. Music at any cost, under any means, for any one. DIY lives in the basements of our neighbors, the living rooms of our friends, and the backyards of strangers. A lot of people may call it underground music, but that sounds so dark, so archaic, and trust me, there is only light and love when it comes to DIY Music.

The Fargo-Moorhead area has a prolific DIY music scene, but you may have never heard of it. It’s one of those guarded secrets that wont find you. You have to find it. DIY announcements live on the personal pages of local musicians. You’re offered a line-up, a time, an admission fee, and the magical line “message me for the address”. House shows, the carrier of the DIY scene, are not inherently illegal, however, house venues have a habit of attracting unwanted attention, whether it be from local authorities, nosey neighbors, and folks who don’t uphold the notion of all are welcome, all are safe, let’s party.

I went to my very first house show this year. It was held at Grandpa’s House, a house venue that can no longer do shows due to noise complaints. It is hard to describe the energy at a house show. Everyone is your friend when you enter. Everyone is catching up, telling stories from the road, and imagining the stories yet to come. The proprietor of this house venue had an interesting house challenge.

“If you can pogo-stick to the top of the staircase, you win this Grandpa Statue-Trophy. If you lose, you get to pay for the new banister you broke!”

If I were forced to describe a house show, or any DIY show in general, with one word, that word would be “intimate”. These are friends enjoying music from their friends. These are touring acts that will ask to sleep at your place when the music is done. These are rock stars baring their soul in a format that will net them little to no money. This is raw music.

DIY music, and house venues serve a special, and unique purpose in the Fargo area. In North Dakota, to allow minors into your establishment, you must prove that you generate at least 50% of your revenue from food and nonalcoholic drinks. This seriously prohibits where a minor can enjoy music in Fargo, as it forces the venue to generate less profit in order to cater to a somewhat increased crowd.

That’s where the underground part of the DIY scene comes from. All ages, all access, often too many people in too little space. DIY and house venues are a saving grace for the often ignored youth in Fargo. A way for them to enjoy live music on a budget.

I would like to wrap this up with words from others in this community. I asked people who are deep in the Fargo DIY scene to define DIY music in their own words.

Hunter from the band Dearly Departed said,

“It's just a group of people working together to enjoy their common interest: music.”

Chris who operates Grease’s House, a local house venue, and also happens to be my little brother had this to say,

“(It’s) Like a co-op grocery store, but with music. Everything from the house venue, to food, merchandise, PA equipment is all pooled together by a group of people with the same goal. Create a good time, and listen to fun music.”

Carter and Matthew, two parts of the band Cascades and the minds behind Hotdish Entertainment,an independent booking agent that throws shows for the Fargo area, add:

Carter: “DIY music in my mind is hard work and dedication to making music knowing full well, and not expecting to get any rewards from it.”

Matthew: “I think the thing that defines our scene as a whole is how everyone/musician is super supportive of each other. It's like one big family!”

Chris, who plays for many bands, including Seriously Hot Sh*t, and is heavily involved in the DIY scene, both as a performer, and a fan, gave me this beautiful quote:

“One of the best statements I’ve ever heard about the scene is “DIY doesn’t mean Do It Alone” and it’s so true. We all support each other and it shows.”

However someone else defines the DIY scene in Fargo, it is truly something you must witness in person. Your definition will be different from others, because it is truly a unique, and intimate exchange, for every person involved.

Recently in:

By Laura Simmonssabrina@hpr1.com The recent overturn of Roe v. Wade allowed North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to sign North Dakota’s trigger law, making abortion illegal starting July 28, 2022. Organizations providing…

By Melissa Van Der Stad  m.forfargo@gmail.comphoto credit: Keith Hapip, Jr.One North Dakota family is in the midst of an ongoing dispute with the…

July 29-30Newman Outdoor FieldSummer doesn’t get much better than when you’re Blues Festin’ out on the ballfield where the RedHawks play. Thirteen bands over two days. Lotsa food and awesome people. Friday’s lineup,…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comOur Opinion: Dissolve partisan lines and elevate the voice of the people.As cliche as it sounds, who would have thought that when we ”sprang ahead” into daylight savings time in March, we’d…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.com Remembering Two Men Whimpering in the Broken Jaw of Our Lost KingdomIn 1284, Hamelin, Germany hired a rat killer to rid the residents of the flea carrier bringing them the Black Plague. For some…

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.comWhile the Fargo-Moorhead area offers many great things to dine on these days, there are some hopeful establishments that would make for big improvements to the local food scene here.The first…

By Michael Strikemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.comBindle Fest is coming back to Fargo, and the third time's the charm for this sprawling DIY fest hosted across the Fargo/Moorhead area. Since its first inception in 2016, it's been an…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comFilmmaker and educator Raymond Rea, who recently retired from Minnesota State University Moorhead, made an indelible impact on the Fargo-Moorhead film community. In 2008, Rea arrived in…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comArtwork: Woodcut by Danielle Gravon titled "Allegory of Fargo Winter I"On June 18, the Rourke will be holding their 62nd annual Midwestern Preview, the date celebrating the opening anniversary of…

By Jessica M. Hawkesjmhawkes84@gmail.comIt wasn’t long after the founding of the railroad and river town of New Rockford that entertainment venues started to put down their own roots. Its population bolstered by booms of nearby…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comCharlie Berens is a man of many hats. The creator of the “Manitowoc Minute” is a newsman, comedian, writer and musician. We had the opportunity to speak with the Wisconsin native about his new…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comLehr Mayor and Council Members Donate City Salaries To Save Legion HallEvery rural community has at least one social space that holds multiple generations of memories and has remained a social…

By Madeline Lukemadelineluke@ymail.comSonja Kaye, of CLEAN in Fargo gave the third of four talks on climate change issues specific to North Dakota for the “What in the World Series,” in Valley City on April 5. While the topic…