Photos by Jessica Ballou
Singer-songwriters Carl Anderson and Nikki Lane performed soulful country music at Fargo Brewing Company on May 23.
Due to rain earlier in the day, the concert was inside the Fargo Brewing Company building. However, throughout the show, several attendees sat outside at the picnic tables while the soulful stylings of the evening drifted out to them.
The show kicked off right at 7 p.m. with Carl Anderson. He played several songs from his 2016 album, Risk of Loss. Many were emotional, like “Broken-Hearted Man” and “Pills,” and it was clear they really felt what they were singing.
Anderson is known for writing and singing songs that evoke authenticity, melancholy and yearning, and he certainly delivered on that at this show.
Anderson first got into music as a teenager. He inherited his singing voice from his father, who used to ride trains across the country, singing and working odd jobs. Even though he was talented, he had a darkness to him as well, so Anderson, his siblings and his mother left when he was six years old. He evokes memories of this relationship in his song “Different Darkness:”
My heart is so much like his / We’re not that different / the same wanderlust met with a different darkness / I can see his face in mine
Anderson’s voice is reminiscent of a mix between Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes and Sturgill Simpson, but his sound is distinctively his own. It’s a combination of old country vibes with contemporary indie lyrics.
The crowd grew steadily as the songs went on. “Silver Lining” and “Heavy” in particular seemed to really resonate well with attendees. Anderson thanked the audience several times for listening to their music and said how much he appreciated them being there.
After a 15 minute break, Nikki Lane and her band came out to whoops and cheers from the ever-growing crowd.
Nikki Lane wrote her first song at nine years ago. Most of her early songs were about the fleetingness of relationships she thought were permanent. Her twist on outlaw country music has gotten more powerful and meaningful as more of her albums have come out.
She started with a bang, and the momentum continued to grow as the night went on. She won the crowd over immediately with her soulful lyrics and powerful sound, which is like a blend of Wanda Jackson and First Aid Kit.
At this show, she garnered a mix of new and old fans with her unique, gravelly voice and old country Southern twang. There was a dedicated group of people in front of the stage throughout her performance, but others sat at the tables both inside and outside the main Fargo Brewing Company entrance, enjoying the beautiful night as well as her soulful country sound.
“Highway Queen,” “700,000 Rednecks” and “Jackpot,” all from her 2017 album Highway Queen, drew several whoops and cheers from the audience, as did “Right Time” from her 2014 album All or Nothin’.
Her effortlessly smooth and soulful voice carried throughout the building and poured out to the picnic tables outside. Her and the band really riffed, and the audience responded to their sound well.
She hit high and low notes, and everything in between, with ease. Singing seems to come naturally to her, and that passion was immediately conveyed to the audience.
The audience was increasingly enthusiastic and engaged, especially during “Send The Sun,” which has very powerful and meaningful lyrics:
And I’m gonna send the sun your way / Wake you up with a dawn full of golden rays / I want you around / Don’t let the darkness get you down
Carl Anderson and Nikki Lane performed old country-style music mixed with contemporary lyrics and a gritty, soulful twist. It was a perfect way to spend a Wednesday evening with some beer and great live music that you don’t hear on the radio much these days.
They’re both powerhouses in the newly merging country-indie genre, and it’s clear they’ll both be around for years to come.