Fargo band Tripwire performs at Chippewa County Fair

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

On Saturday, July 31st, the Fargo-based band Tripwire is traveling to Montevideo to perform at the Chippewa County Fair. The band performed previously at the fair in 2016, as well as recently at the Lac Qui Parle prom.  The band consists of four members: Mark Arneson on Drums, Tim Melin, Lars Hegland (originally from Appleton), and Brandon Cummings on bass. The group started to come together seventeen years ago when in 2004, Mark Arneson founded the band. The current group has been together for the last five years.

Describing their sound would prove challenging, as their show is based on the idea of providing a wide variety of sounds and genres. “We do everything, but we don’t do too much of anything,” says Tripwire member Tim Melin. “We do pop, country, hip-hop, the 80s, 90s, NOW, rock… just absolutely everything. We always make the songs our own. We’ll mash them up together, or make a country song sound like a punk rock song.”

Tripwire’s performances last for four hours with three hours of music and a few breaks in between. “It’s a super long show,” says Melin. “On stage every night is different. That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on is that we never have a setlist. We just go. Whatever song we start with, we have no idea what song is coming next. We base it on the crowd. So if the crowd there wants a song like Rocking Robin, we’ll do something like that. If they want a Chainsmokers song, we’ll do that. If they want Devil Went Down to Georgia, we can throw that at them. We all kind of read the crowd and give signals, so it’s a lot of fun because every night is different and special because of that. Plus we have trampolines on our stage which are always pretty fun.”

The trampolines are for the band members to jump around on, and it’s just a small part of the activity that can be seen on stage during their shows. “On stage, there are only four of us but we have at least a dozen instruments on stage that we all rotate through, so three of us will switch on and off drums. One of us will play bass at the beginning of a song, play keyboard in the middle and end up playing keytar in the end.  I do ten or eleven instruments on stage myself. It’s funny and it’s crazy but people really seem to dig it,” says Melin.

Besides the rapid changing of instruments and trampolines, Melin says they also incorporate a lot of choreography into their show. “We have little dances that go with the setlist, moves that are sometimes just corny like a couple of guys bopping around on stage like they don’t know what they’re doing, and then in the next song, a couple of us are putting on some Usher-style moves. There’s choreography, there’s comedy and a lot of instruments. It’s goofy but it makes sense,” he says. 

The band plays around 130 shows a year, and Tripwire is a full-time job for all of the band members. They travel as far as Kansas and Western Nebraska, sometimes Wisconsin but mostly stick to Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas. “We call them our Core Four. That’s where we play maybe 90 percent of our shows,” Melin says. 

The band is looking forward to their return to the Chippewa County Fair this year. “We love that area. We’re excited. If people come out to the show, my favorite thing to say is that if you don’t like the song we’re playing all you have to do is probably wait three minutes and we’ll play a song you like,” says Melin. “That’s how different we go. We never do two country songs or two rock songs in a row. We have a lot of very short attention spans in our band and that usually lends itself to people being happy at our shows.”