Writer: Sam Kayuha, Executive Editor.
Old North Columbus bar and music venue Spacebar celebrated its third birthday over the weekend with two nights of music from local bands. The free shows featured acts that have been longtime performers in, and friends and patrons of, the venue.
Winter Makes Sailors, Go Go Buffalo, the Up All Nights, Matter of Planets, First Bite and Vacation Forever took the stage, as well as the very first band to perform at Spacebar.
Friendly Faux opened the venue in 2014. Frontman Geoff Spall remembers serious preparation, and a cover of David Bowie’s “Starman” to close its set. But its members contributed more than just music that night.
“We were going to be the first band on stage, and we took it seriously,” said Spall. “We wanted to get there early and help them set up. I ran out and bought extra mixers for the bar, our bassist Charis was screwing in lightbulbs.”
Since then Spacebar has become a staple in its neighborhood, offering a reliable space for local bands and affordable prices for patrons. Old North has absorbed the overflow of businesses and residents priced out of areas to the south in recent years, and Spacebar is physically and spiritually in the middle of that.
“We definitely came to the neighborhood at the right time,” said owner Ben DeRolph.
DeRolph came to own the bar through a bit of unexpected good fortune. He was offered the opportunity to buy the space by Jacob Wooten, the owner of Kobo, which previously occupied 2590 N. High St.
“He [Wooten] and I were talking about me maybe joining his Queen cover band Mr. Fahrenheit and the Loverboys. I mentioned how jealous I was that he owned the place, and he asked if I wanted to buy it.”
DeRolph took over, and after a three-month renovation period in which he and group of 15 friends planned the venue’s layout and philosophy, Spacebar opened in September of 2014.
The bar hosts shows of all genres; DeRolph mentioned a set by funk band Tank and the Bangas as one of his most memorable.
“We’re open to anything. The bands are the ones who set up the shows, and the only thing we’re picky about is audience behavior,” DeRolph said, mentioning the destruction that was sometimes wrought on Kobo.
Three years in and Spacebar is still going strong; weekend shows are booked solid through December. Shows can be found on spacebarcolumbus.com, or the marquee.