This is the 7th year that the former venue The New Direction hosted a 3-day festival featuring many talented bands within the Midwest. If you’ve been around, you would know that The New Direction venue closed in 2016, but it’s more than just a building. Jack Stenerson said it best himself in his statement on this year’s fest; “We’ve always said that The New Direction was more than a building. That becomes more and more true every day. The New Direction is a community, it is a family. Whether it was your first fest or 7th, you are all part of that family now”. In honor of the beloved, late venue the music community kept The New Direction legacy alive by continuing the festivities at local venue The Aquarium for the past two years. This year was my first time attending and I was fortunate enough to get a photo pass and shoot alongside some amazing Fargo-local photographers like Kaytlin Dargen and Amanda Frost!
There was 18 bands total that played across the 3 day weekend. It was amazing to see so many different bands and D.I.Y. communities from North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa come together to share this experience. Even some national bands like Counterparts and Stick to your guns played the show. Throughout the weekend small businesses teamed up with the TND crew to provide great vegan food and activities for out-of-towners to do while waiting for doors to open. Each day was a good mix of genres and bands with different origins.
Day one consisted of Free Truman, Dreamer’s Disease, Grobe, Stars Hollow, Household, and Remo Drive. It was a tasty lineup to kick off the weekend, starting with Fargo locals and ending with Household and Remo Drive who were both celebrating milestones for their bands—Household released a killer album and Remo Drive signed to a label.
Day two consisted of Crab Legs, Closet Witch, Weathered, Pierre, Victor Shores, and Comrades. This day started off a little heavy with Crab Legs and Closet Witch. Pretty much everyone was mind-blown by Closet Witch after their set, as their vocalist delivered high energy and expression. I tried to get a lil rowdy during Pierre but ended up falling and busting my elbow, and thankfully someone was there to help me off the ground. Day two was all about captivating performances.
Day three consisted of Phobophilic, Inconsistent, High Hopes, Swing Low, Counterparts, and Stick to Your Guns. Phobophilic mentioned that it’s been a year since they started their band and their thankfulness for being added to the fest. Inconsistent announced their addition of a 4th member, and also had a 5th person on stage sitting in a fold-out chair with sunglasses on. This day probably had the most people attend, and there was plenty of crowd interaction with the bands on this lineup—LOTS of stage dives and mic grabs.
In past years I was hesitant to make the trip up for past fests and I’m really glad I finally did it this year. I have been to Fargo before but I was able to experience more of the city itself and how welcoming it is. Being able to be surrounded by so many other individuals who care about music as much as I do and support local D.I.Y was refreshing. After feeling indifferent about shooting shows for a while being able to photograph this event was like a recharge for me. Being able to spend downtime and local coffee places and being with friends in the daytime before the show was fantastic. Unexpectedly the whole weekend came and went faster than I would’ve thought, the first night I was telling a lot of people I was shocked how quick the night went. I was impressed with how smooth every night went with set changes and sound checks. It was a really well organized and executed weekend and I really hope to attend TND fest 8!