On March 8, 2020, I attended a show at the old Elevator Brewing Company on N. 4th St in Columbus. The Arena District and surrounding areas were strangely void of people, as the Arnold Sports Festival had essentially been closed down to all but the performers. The “Novel Coronavirus” had a lot of people panicking, and many businesses were wondering what the state was going to do with confirmed infections within the state borders. I had no idea that this was going to be the last live concert I would attend in 2020.
Of course, it would have been a silly assumption to make, being that my calendar for March had seven more shows that I was going to be covering, including the always popular Steadfast Festival on March 14. In fact, I had concerts on three consecutive days over the course of that weekend, and I was wondering how my stamina would hold up by the end of Sunday.
I was driving home from an interview I did with The Raquels on the evening of March 11. I flipped on the radio as I navigated through the city and was immediately inundated with the news (on almost every station) that the NBA was cancelling games due to a player testing positive for COVID-19. There was a Blue Jackets (NHL) game scheduled for the next day, and the team was at war with the state politicians over whether they could play. Governor Mike DeWine had signed an executive order banning gatherings of over 100 people, which also limited the scope of live concerts as well.
Suddenly, Tuned Up founder Ryan Getz was faced with a dilemma. Should he try to continue with the show that had been planned for months, or postpone the event and hope for a later date in 2020? Eventually he succumbed to the inevitable, and after several months of tossing it around, came up with the idea to do Steadfast and Friends, an online version of the festival featuring a wonderfully eclectic lineup of 18 artists.
I had a chance to chat with Ryan this week about what transpired that fateful week in March, and what he has planned for the upcoming festival, scheduled to start at 4 p.m., Saturday, October 17.
Tell me how you felt about how everything happened with the pandemic. I remember the stay-at-home order came down literally two days before the festival.
Ryan Getz: At the time, awful. That whole week was agonizing. I just felt this overwhelming dread and sadness on Thursday morning. When Governor DeWine issued the order it gave me some closure. Like it wasn’t on me to make the call to continue or not.
With that being said, when did you first come up with the idea to do an online festival?
RG: I started thinking about it probably in June. We actually tried to reschedule the in-person festival for Labor Day… (Ryan chuckles when he says this), we made the call to cancel that on Labor Day before it was officially announced. Early in July, we made the decision to go online.
Was it easier or more difficult to put together an online festival as opposed to one in person?
RG: In some ways, easier. It was a lot less work overall, but I’m kind of running a two-man show; Marco Castro and I are basically doing everything. Bell Tree Productions is handling the production side.
The lineup looks pretty good. How did that change from the original festival?
RG: The goal was to be kind of a standalone lineup with a mix of friends, old and new. So we carried over about half the in-person 2020 Steadfast lineup. The rest have either performed in past years, or are just longtime supporters of Tuned Up.
Speaking of old friends, how excited were you to be able to get Lily in the Weeds, since they left Ohio for New Orleans?
RG: Very. They said they were interested right off the bat when I started to explore the idea of an online event.
I’m guessing all of the bands you spoke with were excited to hop back on?
How exactly is it going to play out? I’m assuming each band will be playing from different locations?
RG: Five of the sets will be from the Class Acts Studio in Grandview (OH). Four of those will be live, and then the rest will be pre-recorded. One band is debuting a music video, but it’s going to be one continuous stream.
Are you going to be doing introductions and such in between each band?
RG: Not for every band. I’ll be doing some talking, though…
How long will the show be available for viewing after the event has concluded?
RG: I’m still negotiating how long it will be up afterward, but I at least want to post individual songs on our YouTube afterward.
Do you have the set times ironed out?
RG: Not just yet.
I presume there will be shorter set times? You’ve got 18 bands lined up for a one-day event, after all.
RG: Yeah, they will be 20-25 minute sets. So it should run for six-ish hours. One band is just the music video.
Got any other surprises up your sleeve?
RG: Not this time… I’m just hoping every band gets new fans
The lineup features seven holdovers from the original March festival: Motherfolk, Ravenhill, Crusoe, Danger Scene, Ghost Soul Trio, LeTrainiump and Forever Unknown. Joining them will be local acts Playing to Vapors, The Castros, Blacklight Tribe, Dave Buker and the Historians, and Starlit Ways. Outside of Ohio, The Indigo and Salina Solomon from Nashville, TN will also be performing, along with Faintheart (Kansas City, MO) and Bonelang (Chicago, IL).
All in all, Getz has a superb lineup prepared and it’s looking to be a wonderfully fun event, even if it is just watching on your computer or smart device. Personally, I am relishing the opportunity to watch any livestream shows.
By the way, it’s free and the Ohio State University isn’t back for another week! So why not enjoy some great music?
The show will begin at 4 p.m. on the Tuned Up YouTube Page