GNARBEQUE PREVIEW: ZACK BARNES
For as long as I have loved music, I have at the same time loved festivals. They always have had this crazy way of making life a little better at the time, even if just for a day. There is something magical about them, and there is no feeling like it in the world. This applies to local fests to national touring fests; that feeling is there but more with local festivals.
Coming from a small town in Georgia to here was a culture shock in many ways, and one of those came in the form of festivals. I was used to the local fests with whatever few local bands were around at the time playing. So when I moved here and was told “Just wait until summer; you will have the best time of your life,” I was instantly intrigued and ready to experience what Columbus had to offer. I was not prepared for what was ahead of me that summer, my friend was absolutely right in what he said. That summer was great. And why? It was the local festivals. Every weekend there was something going on, somewhere in the city. Not only did I get to see amazing local bands from all walks of life but I met people I would not have met otherwise. Each festival had its own unique feel and crowd but in ways they were all the same.
A few years back I had some friends play a festival that was held in a few backyards near campus. So I went to watch them, and it turned out to be the best day of that summer for me. I saw so many acts that I had actually never seen and met so many awesome people that day. It was just a really great day, one that I still haven’t forgotten. That was year 2 for Gnarbeque. My friends didn’t play the next year, but we all couldn’t wait for Gnarbeque and the adventures it would bring. And just as the year before, we all had a great day, one that we talked about for months. Last summer, my third Gnarbeque was no different, it was the day I looked forward to more than any day in the summer, and it did not disappoint in the least bit. As per usual the amount of local talent on display was insane. I knew that this summer would be year 5, and I was wondering what it would like. What we got is not what I expected. Not only did it change locations, but it is now a two-day festival. We get two days of music from some of the best that Columbus has to offer. The best part is this festival has everything from hip-hop to EDM to singer-songwriters to metal and everything in between. There really is something for everyone this weekend at Woodlands Backyard. And they have added workshops on both days as well. How dope is that? So Trust me when I say this is a festival you DO NOT want to miss. Support your local scene! Support your city!
This last Gnarbeque preview is with Zach Barnes, Co-Founder and current president of Gnarbeque Productions LLC.
TUNED UP: Where did the idea for Gnarbeque come from?
Zach Barnes: I play with a band called Tourist Trap. It was our very first show, as we didn’t know how to get booked at a bar or a venue with no recorded music. We invited Zoo Trippin’ and another band we had recently seen from Canton, OH to play in our basement on July 30, 2015. My old roommate, Logan, was our grill master, flipping burgers on an old charcoal grill in our back yard, and we had our friend Danielle selling her art in our living room.
When thinking about the future of Gnarbeque, where do you see it going?
When I first began to process this would be an annual event, rather than just a one-off house show, I had a vision that this would begin to turn into its own tiny ComFest, which draws about twenty or thirty-thousand folks from all over the country. We’ve had friends travel from both east coast and west coast for multiple years that we’ve thrown it, so that is a stepping stone I would like to reach before making bigger decisions.
If Gnarbeque had a mission statement, what would it be?
I’ve always liked to say, “Party for Good,” which means we want our festival-goers to have a great time, but we make sure our fun is going back to our community in different ways. The Gnarbeque Music & Arts Festival is a community-based festival that started as an outreach to bring people together, to support local businesses and talent.
What makes Gnarbeque stick out from other Columbus festivals?
We’re green behind the ears. We are brand new when it comes to what it takes to throw a festival. This 2019 event is the first time we aren’t throwing it in a backyard or basement of a house on OSU campus, and I think we have a lot of room to grow, learn, and do whatever we want with our events. We’re looking to provide an alternative music and art experience than other festivals in town as well. Not to say other fests don’t have great line ups or artists. I think What? Music & Arts Fest, Cloud City Fest, Steadfast Fest, and Columbus Covers Columbus are all dope in different ways, and we’re just a little bit different, too.
Every year the lineup has been amazing. Is there an artist that you have wanted to book that you haven’t yet?
Each year, I try to book a popular act in Columbus to be crowd-pleasers, but I always love booking my personal favorites. The Worn Flints have been a tough catch every summer due to their touring schedule.
How do you go about the selection process?
I personally picked the last 5 years’ lineups with my friends helping me throw the event. I usually book a few of my friend’s bands, because it’s always been a backyard party and a few bands that I just wanted to bring to play at our growing summer event in my backyard. But starting in 2020, we will begin accepting applications from bands and DJs all over the Midwest.
What is your favorite summertime drink?
Ice-cold sweet tea. Any other answer is wrong.
Favorite summer activity?
Playing shows! Tourist Trap thrives during summer-time when we play outdoor stages. I also love exploring different parts of the city I may have never checked out before or traveling to other places in the state.
What makes a good summer song/album?
It definitely depends on my mood, but “easycore” music takes the cake for summer vibes in my book. Bands like Four Year Strong, Settle Your Scores, Kill Lincoln, New Found Glory, etc.
What is one thing you enjoy about the summer?
The weather! I love being outside and getting sun when it’s nice out. I lived in Louisiana for two years before I moved to Columbus, and one of the things I miss about living there is how warm it was year round.
What are your thoughts on socks with sandals?
This question reminds me of an episode of Rocket Power. But I think sandals are just funny-looking in general, sock or no socks. Flip flops are the way to go.
If you had to pick one thing that makes summers awesome in Columbus, what would it be?
There is always….let me say it again for the people in the back…always something going on! I can’t step out of my front door or check my social media without hearing about another new event happening somewhere between downtown, the Short North, OSU campus, or Old North Columbus, Local bands playing at one of the many venues in town, culture festivals, art shows, parades, free theater shows at parks. It’s all happening right here in Columbus, which is why I love this city.