The Sanctuary Events Center, a multi-purpose venue located in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, is housed in a former church. Built in 1912, it is a charming brick and glass building, with a gorgeous wooden interior, exposed rafters, and stained glass windows. The concert space is bi-level and holds about 600 people.
The acoustics are excellent, and the staff is both professional and accommodating. Because the Sanctuary often serves as a wedding venue, it’s missing the sticky-floor-filthy-bathrooms esthetics of a typical bar venue, which a very novel experience for most live music connoisseurs. It’s a nice change of pace.
The drive from Minneapolis to Fargo is a little under four hours one way, and after seeing two amazing shows at the Sanctuary, I’m willing to admit that it’s one of my favorite venues in the midwest in spite of the distance.
Red Sun Rising
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Red Sun Rising formed back in 2007. They built up a strong fan base through the canny use of social media and a dynamic live show. By 2013 they’d released two independent albums and a couple of EPs before being picked up by Razor & Tie for their next two albums, including their most recent release, Threads in March of 2018.
Red Sun Rising hit the stage with what initially seemed to be an excessive number of guitars. Four seemed like a little bit of overkill, with the potential to drown out the vocals. Red Sun Rising proved that there’s no such thing as too many guitars, which added a unique depth to their sound. They’re categorized as alternative or hard rock, but to shove them into a narrow genre definition does them a disservice.
While there is an element of stadium pop rock to their music, the band stands out because of their excellent musicianship, nuanced lyrics, and Mike Protich’s powerful vocals. They had a lot of enthusiasm and energy, bouncing around and engaging the crowd from the start. They played a tight set with songs from both of their albums, and it wasn’t long before the crowd was dancing and singing along.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of opening acts over the years, and though I’ve never seen a support band that I thought was awful, Red Sun Rising is one of the few acts that impressed me enough that I went home and bought their music. I highly recommend catching them on stage, and checking out their music.
Red Sun Rising is Mike Protich on vocals and guitar, Ryan Williams on lead guitar, Dave McGarry on rhythm guitar and backup vocals, Ricky Miller on bass and backup vocals, and Pat Gerasia on drums. They are on tour for the rest of the summer, including a stint as support for Godsmack and Shinedown on the Ticket to Rock program.
I first saw the Used in 2010. Up until that point, I had been a casual fan of the band. But seeing them live, watching their charisma on stage, feeling the crowd surge to the beat of the music…there was something magical about the experience that converted me into a forever fan of the Used.
The Used’s new album “The Canyon” was released in October of last year, and since then, there have been some personnel changes. In spite of that, the core of the band remains solid and unshakable. Fifteen years in, they’re seasoned performers who know how to put on a good show and clearly love doing so.
Bert is a dynamo on stage, jumping and dancing, grinning maniacally and flipping the bird whenever the mood strikes him. It’s obvious he puts everything into his performance, and he’s just as passionate and honest as he was the first time I saw them live. Jepha is a solid presence stage left, the thrumming of his bass the pulse beat of the music. New to the band but definitely not new to the scene, guitarist Joey fits seamlessly into place, shredding away to the songs like he’d been playing them for years. Tying it all together, high on his riser, Dan is a phenomenally talented and powerful drummer who lays down rhythm and holds steady through it all.
The Used played a set of mostly older songs shifting the focus away from their newest album and including some they haven’t played live in a while. They ended the show by introing the distinctive guitars and drums of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” before segueing into “A Box Full of Sharp Objects” and then switching back to finish things off with a raucous rendition of “Teen Spirit.”
The crowd was like a mirror, reflecting back the energy and emotion that the band was throwing out, headbanging and shouting along with the lyrics, sweating and reaching toward the stage. There’s something addictive about being in a crowd of people consumed by the feelings they have for the music being played. And in the end, when the Used leave the stage, you feel exhausted and wrung out, but buzzing and high and ready for more.
The best shows are the ones you wish would never end. This was one of those shows.
The Used consists of Bert McCracken on vocals, Jepha Howard on bass, Dan Whitesides on drums, and Joey Bradford on guitars. They are going to be out with the last ever Warped Tour this summer before heading to Europe for a run of tour dates. Catch them live if you can.
by cardiac_in_overdrive (@cardiac_ovrdrv)