Photo by Courteney Larson
Dan “Chow” Virchow is a photographer, videographer, and radio host from West Fargo, North Dakota. As a lifelong fan of rock and metal music, Virchow has been a staple on Fargo Airwaves since joining the team at Q98 (now Q105.1) in 2012. Always looking to support the rock scene in any way possible, Virchow has since developed a passion for concert photography after shooting various bands that ranged from local and regional all the way to globally recognized acts like Metallica and AC/DC.
After years of shooting shows as nothing more than a passion project, Virchow began hitting the road as a traveling photographer in 2021, working with notable acts such as Slipknot, Corey Taylor, and Cherry Bombs.
Alongside his work with bands, there are a couple of other “B” words that are a big part of Dan’s world: bikes and burgers. Dan has worked at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as a photographer and MC for the last 10 years, and is also the Multimedia Director for Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, documenting the restaurant’s rapid growth across the United States. Always looking to develop new skills and put them into play, Dan has developed a reputation as a “one-man band.”
Dan’s favorite events & activities in Fargo-Moorhead
#1 Red River Valley Fair
“If you can’t find a way to have fun at the RRVF, you might just not be capable of having fun! There’s so much to do, so much to see, and an amazing entertainment lineup every year that spans every musical genre.”
#2 Fargo Street Fair
“If you haven’t been to the Fargo Street Fair, you won’t believe the size and scope of this event—it is massive! It’s an awesome place to see creativity on display and there are so many incredible vendors, great food, and live entertainment. It’s a great place to shop for yourself or for gifts for others.”
#3 Bike Night at Sickies Garage
“Bike Nights at Sickies are a huge event with over 400 bikes in attendance some weeks. Every Wednesday from 5-9 p.m. and running Memorial Day through Labor Day, they offer live music, games, giveaways, vendors, and more. There’s really nothing better in the summertime than finishing up work, hopping on the bike, and heading to Sickies Garage to check out live music, kick it with friends, and enjoy the outdoor weather.”
#4 St. Patty’s Day Pub Crawl
“I love a good pub crawl. The St. Patty’s Day Pub Crawl always feels like the community’s unofficial spring kickoff party. That is, of course, when it’s not 0 degrees and snowing on pub crawl day!”
#5 Roughrider Ink & Iron Expo
“This is the ultimate showcase of creativity in the FM area. There’s live entertainment, tons of vendors, and an awesome selection of motorcycles on display. Even if you don’t have any tattoos (I’ve been MCing the event for almost 10 years and still don’t have any tattoos!), you’ll gain a new perspective on the craft as you walk around and see so many artists doing their thing.”
#6 Dia Del Taco
“Tacos and pro wrestling? Sometimes I feel like this event was created specifically for me!”
#7 Happy Harry’s RibFest
“This is when it really starts to feel like summer in Fargo. The food. The music. The people watching. Three of my favorite things in one! Obviously, the food is the selling point, but I really dig going to the concerts. You can’t beat an outdoor show in the summer!”
Dan’s recommended Bars & Restaurants
1. Brewhalla at Drekker Brewing
“Brewhalla is probably the coolest place in all of Fargo-Moorhead! It’s a true spectacle. If you have friends coming to town and are wondering where to take them, this is the spot.
2. Wurst Bier Hallon Veterans Ave
“Wurst Bier Hall has food incredibly unique to the area and an incredibly comfortable vibe at this location. They have an excellent Glazed Ham Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries with a Marshmallow Fluff dip that is truly world-class.”
3. Boiler Room
“Great place to meet up with friends and grab some apps. I’ve been around the world and still haven’t found a place that makes Scotch Eggs better than them!”
4. Texas Roadhouse
“Sure, it’s a chain restaurant, but it’s probably my favorite place to eat. I love a good gimmick! Also, it’s probably the best ‘bang for your buck’ restaurant in Fargo.”
5. Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews
“Huge selection and an awesome atmosphere. Have you tried the CHOWZILLA yet? ;)”
Shot by Virchow
As a full-time multimedia director and freelancer creating content for various companies, Dan Virchow has assembled quite an extensive and impressive portfolio of work from various live shows and projects. Check out some of his impressive work!
Photo by Kymberly Whitehall
Dan Virchow in action photographing a live show!
Alicia Taylor of Cherry Bombs
Corey Taylor of Slipknot
Caleb Shomo of Beartooth
Papa Emeritus of Ghost
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Dan’s favorite things to do around town for entertainment
#1 Outdoor Concerts at Fargo Brewing Company
“This place has become my top concert destination in Fargo. Outdoor shows at Fargo Brewing Company have become synonymous with summer to me.”
#2 Fargo Force Hockey
“I’m not a huge hockey fan and I even love going to these games! The energy at Force games is unmatched. Plus, they’re always in the hunt for the championship. It’s fun to cheer for winners!”
#3 Live Music at The Windbreak
“The Windbreak is a reliable place to catch some great live entertainment every weekend. Good For Gary and Fool House are both can’t-miss bands!”
#4 Live Music at the Fargodome
“The Fargodome brings in some serious names and tends to do so on the weekends which is always a plus.”
#5 SDSU Beating NDSU
“I’m a Jackrabbit alum and always enjoy it when the Jacks come to town and leave with the Dakota Marker. Go Big, Go Blue!”
Dan’s favorite local spots
“How cool is this place? The visual spectacle alone is enough to make for an excellent day, but add in all the shopping and great drinks… it’s probably the raddest place in the F-M area.”
#2 Fargo Brewing Company
“The additions and renovations that are constantly being made at FBC guarantee a new experience every time you stop in. Plus, their indoor and outdoor live music stages have become two of my favorites in the city.”
#3 Anywhere outside the city on a motorcycle
“There are so many open roads to cruise right outside of Fargo. Riding around with space and music cranking as the sunsets might be the best feeling.”
#4 Orchard Glen Park
“Orchard Glen is an awesome place to walk around, snap some photos, and just chill out. Excellent for short hikes and photo opportunities. There are some views at this park that will truly make you wonder if you’re still in the Fargo-Moorhead area.”
#5 Island Park
“It’s a great place to relax on a Saturday morning/afternoon. Also, its proximity to downtown Fargo makes it a great starting location for a day out on the town.”
Dan’s favorite local musicians
Tell me a bit more about live music in Fargo.
“I’ve been to so many great shows over the past couple of years. The Windbreak is a reliable place for live music that doesn’t mess around. The Aquarium and Dempsey’s both have great stages with fun events going on all the time. They all consistently have music on Fridays and Saturdays, whereas there’s no guarantee with some other venues. I love the Fargodome for bringing national acts to our town. Fargo Brewing Company does a great job bringing in a blend of up-and-coming artists and large, national acts. One great thing about their shows is that they’re smart by booking them on the weekends. They know that we’re a very working-class community that wants to enjoy top-tier entertainment in our free time. I love going to live shows since it’s crazy how far we’ve come. Fargo has done a great job upping the ante in our entertainment frequency lately.” – Dan Virchow
1. Low Standards
“They’re exactly what a local live band should be: a ton of fun. At their core, they’re big fans of 2000s pop-punk music like Blink-182 and other bands from that era. They play that music, but they also sprinkle in a lot of 2000s hits from Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys. They’re really fun for anyone in my age group especially, as that’s the music that I grew up with. The fun thing about their band is that you can tell that no one is having more fun at their shows than they are and that’s why I love going into their shows. Don’t be surprised if you yourself wind up on stage at a Low Standards show!”
“I love heavy metal music and these guys are BRUTAL. Fargo houses a handful of really impressive, aggressive bands, and it was only a matter of time before Maul broke out. They’re one of the hottest bands in the world of death metal right now and they’re from right here in Fargo. They’re making waves touring nationally right now, and they got really great reviews from a lot of credible sources in the industry on their latest album, so I love to see that they’re blowing up now. When they start, you can feel the mood of the room change. They create an atmosphere that’s truly something special. If you’re in the mood to bang your head completely off, find your nearest Maul show.”
“Ashfall is an excellent hard rock band with punishing riffs and exceptional musicianship. They have more of a traditional metal sound, like Iron Maiden meets Judas Priest, with other similar influences in that era. They’re really great musicians with a unique sound, and they’re great people too. I’ve done some photography projects for them in the past and I’m a big fan of motivated bands that are actually going for it and putting in the work!”
4. Perfectly Still
“These guys are really going for it. They spend money on their show because they’re motivated to give the best performance possible through great stage production with catchy hooks. They create this amazing stage atmosphere through a light show with smoke, which is invaluable from a local perspective. These guys with hopes and dreams are investing in themselves, and I respect that a lot.”
5. Save me CJ
“What makes them fun is that they have wild setlists that span from the 80s and 90s to the 2010s and modern songs, which they do extremely well. Their talent level far exceeds what’s required of the songs they’re playing. They’re really fun, energetic, super-talented musicians who have a great setlist that keeps you guessing every time. You never know what you’re gonna get next and that’s what makes it so compelling and awesome. Three hours could pass of watching one of the best party bands in the area and you wouldn’t even notice!”
Q&A with Dan Virchow
Q: What does Fargo mean to you? What keeps you here?
A: I travel a lot lately. Fortunately, now I’m in a position where I’m traveling the world. I just got back from an awesome trip to Australia, Indonesia, and Japan and I’m going to be in Europe next month. I go to these amazing, exotic places, but there’s something about Fargo. You have everything you need here.
Everybody here lives a very comfortable life and they make others around them comfortable as well. There are a lot of major businesses that have either started or been based out of here. It’s difficult for us to get through these winters, but I feel that spurs up a lot of creativity. It’s a very fun and thriving entrepreneurial town that I get to call my home base.
Q: What does your “perfect day in Fargo-Moorhead” look like?
A: For me, the perfect day in Fargo is a walk around the city’s parks and downtown with a camera in hand. There’s something so peaceful about capturing the happenings of any place through street photography.
Q: What work of yours has had the biggest impact on you?
A: I was fortunate to take photos at one of Chris Cornell’s final performances before his passing. Some of my shots were used at festivals nationwide as a tribute in the following weeks. As a huge fan of his music and career, it was surreal to have my eye’s view used as a tribute for all to see in the following weeks, and really kickstarted my photography career.
Some of Virchow’s photos from one of Chris Cornell’s final performances.
Photo by Dan Virchow
Q: What have been some of your most memorable experiences with radio?
A: One random Tuesday at the station, I was asked by a sales associate if I knew who Ric Flair was. As a massive wrestling fan, I was almost insulted to be asked such a thing! Flash forward to the next day and I was working an event at the Fargo Theatre with the Nature Boy, passing the mic between each other and cracking wise. It was unbelievable. WOOOO!
Q: What’s the most “out there” event that you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve worked in Sturgis for years, and every day there tends to be WAY “out there.” But one event I worked on that comes to mind was being an “imposter” at a Micro Wrestling Federation show at The Venue at The Hub (now Avalon Events Center) years ago. My night ended with a cookie sheet to the head and a CAUTION: Wet Floor sign to the face. Not my greatest night!
Q: Is there anything else that you want to say to the readers?
A: When you’re down in the dumps, which we all get sometimes, you have to remember what hobbies and passions you like to do and do them. If you don’t have those things, there’s always more time to find a new one. Sometimes those hobbies can accelerate and blow up into full-blown careers, which is kind of what happened to me.
Growing up, I’ve always been a huge heavy metal and hard rock fan and aspired to be a touring musician. As life went on, that didn’t happen for me, but now I’m able to go on tours for photography and videography with the musicians that I admire. I love that because the only real currency in life is your memories. I create memories all the time, all over the world, and I’m fortunate for that. I had to work at it really hard, but hard work pays off and dreams do come true. You just have to make it happen.