Words by Jeff Nelson
Images by BlazingChakrams Photography
Craft & Vinyl is part bar, part record store, and part recording studio in Grandview, OH. And yes, it is just as cool as it sounds. A stage was set up in the back of the space, with couches in front of it.
I’ve never seen an indie artist in a very big hat play at a small coffee shop in Brooklyn, but I imagine it would have a very similar vibe to Craft & Vinyl right before Chase Duncan opened the night. The artists were mingling with fans awaiting the performance before the show started, and it all felt very intimate. Duncan plays with local punk band Sink Faster, but tonight he played a solo acoustic set.
Next up was Something Else, with another acoustic set as the room began to slowly grow more crowded. By the time the main event, Zach Frost began, it was standing room only, with people standing lining both walls of the venue. This was a release event for his new EP, Bucket List, and people were visibly excited to see him play the new material.
Frost stood with his back to the audience, bathed in colorful changing lights as he began his set. The packed room grew quiet, then began to cheer for him as he waited.
Finally, he turned around and hit the first few notes of Tombstone, a track on the new EP. Immediately, the crowd was clapping and singing along when encouraged by Frost. He controlled the room perfectly from start to finish.
Next was You Can’t Go Back. This was a very upbeat song that allowed Frost to really play with the dynamics in a small room. He pulled back and really let his voice lift over the crowd near the end of the song, and I was impressed how well he could fill the space since it was just him and a ukulele on the stage.
The rules for the next song, Wrecking Ball, were arguably simple. When Frost said “you,” we drank. We all happily obliged and drank quite a bit. The increase in consumption also lead to an increase in crowd participation by the end of the song, which may have been by design, but it was a lot of fun all the same.
The only single Frost released before Rock Bottom was the title track, so it received a warm welcome when he played the opening riff. The stage could have easily felt very empty since Frost was the only inhabiting it, but he made use of the entirety of the space, dancing between verses and making it feel much smaller. He fell to the floor after the second chorus, striking the image of a proper rock star, albeit with a ukulele.
Although people were happily singing along throughout his set, Holy Chest contained the second or third official singalong of the night. Frost was rarely the only person singing, though he stood alone on the stage. I had only started listening to him within the last few weeks, and even I found myself singing along to almost every song by the time they finished. They were catchy and easy to sing along to. That simplicity not only got them stuck in your head, but also gave him the chance to really have fun on stage, and that fun was infectious.
Before the next song Frost said, “Bucket List was the hardest record that I’ve ever made.” He thanked everyone that was involved in the EP, most of which were at the show and heckled him from the back of the room. He started Lying on the Floor after this, and I spent most of the song watching people in the bar rather than Frost. It was incredible to see all these people that cared so deeply about a local artist.
As I’ve stated many times, people were singing along, but not just the way people sing along where we just move our mouth until it gets to the chorus. Some people knew every word to songs that had released earlier that day.
In Make the Oceans Move, Frost opened his range a little bit and it took me a little by surprise. For most of the new EP, he stays in the lower part of his register, so to hear him nail high notes and climb higher than he had in the rest of the set was a pleasant revelation. He has a much larger range than he shows on Bucket List, and he shines as a tenor as well as a baritone.
The final song for the night was Penitent, a big track from last year’s EP I Try Not to Think About the Past. All his theatrics seem to come to a head as he danced back and forth on the stage, once again falling to his knees, belting out a high note from the floor. He ended the song by strumming his ukulele as powerfully as one can strum a ukulele. He thanked the crowd and walked off the stage to chants of one more song, but he did not give in.
Other than all the songs that are still stuck in my head, the one thing I took away from the night was the passion people have for this artist. I will be the first to admit, I am relatively new to the Columbus local music scene, but it felt very special to be attending an EP release show and have people already singing the new songs. There were two people I especially noticed right next to the stage that were singing with each other for every song while they danced.
If this is par for the course at every local show, I am so genuinely excited to have more of these experiences. But I know that I will be able to have one if I have the pleasure of seeing Zach Frost again. If you’re interested in seeing what all the singing was about, Frost will be playing on the November 24 at Elevator Brewing Co. and on December 21 at The Shrunken Head.