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By: Zachary Kolesar, In The Record Store staff writer.
When you observe what the Columbus music scene has become at a distance, you can see an ever-growing community of local artists and an expanding presence of national underground and mainstream acts and artists.
The Schottenstein Center and Nationwide Arena are frequent hosts to some of the biggest tours in the world, and on any given night you can find a Columbus act blessing some our city’s more intimate venues.
A way of enjoying music that has gained a strong presence in our city over the past decade is festivals, especially those toting flashy acts. So when PromoWest Fest announced a year off after its inaugural weekend due to 2016’s “exceeded attendance goals,” it was strange to see the Columbus festival scene.
But that does not mean PromoWest’s festival presence won’t be felt in Ohio this summer. PromoWest purchased Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival in 2014, meaning that this will be the Columbus company’s third year managing what is becoming one of the most diverse festivals in the Midwest.
“It's been great to see the response that Cincinnati has had for the festival,” said Megan Doster, marketing director for PromoWest Productions. “Just a positive attitude that everyone there has for it and how much that they love it and how much they're excited to embrace it and really be a part of it every year.”
PromoWest’s roots date back to 1984 when President and CEO Scott Stienecker bought the building that would become Newport Music Hall. A few years ago, the company celebrated its 30th anniversary by spreading its influence farther south with the purchase of Bunbury.
In Bunbury’s three years prior to PromoWest ownership, the lineups were rock-heavy with a dash of EDM and sprinkle of rap. From 2015 on, PromoWest has worked at integrating an equal dose of the three above-mentioned genres into the three-day festival. 2017’s installment will look to take that effort to the next level.
“I think we're so lucky in Ohio to be so close to such major cities, and I think Cincinnati as a whole is a great area for us to expand to and to bring something different to the people there than they might have going on all the time,” Doster said.
After taking a look at some of the headliners-- Muse, Pretty Lights Live, Bassnectar, Wiz Khalifa and G-Eazy-- the diversity of musicians represents how varied people’s music taste has become. With nearly 50 acts on the lineup spanning Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4, Bunbury seems to be incorporating a headliner from each genre.
Wiz Khalifa and G-Eazy will bring rap to the forefront of Bunbury on Friday, while festival veterans Death Cab For Cutie and one of Doster’s favorites, The Shins, will mix up Friday’s kickoff. Electronic heavyweights Bassnectar and Pretty Lights Live will take over the meat of the festival on Saturday, with hip-hop marvels D.R.A.M. and Tech N9ne adding flavor beforehand.
The masterful live work of Muse will then close out Bunbury on Sunday, with everyone from The 1975 to Jon Bellion to Thirty Seconds To Mars, another one of Doster’s favorites, lending a helping hand. For a more in-depth look at the lineup, a daily schedule is available on the festival’s website.
With a wide web of music and a unique surrounding area, Bunbury has evolved into one of the must-see festivals of the Midwest. Even without PromoWest Fest’s presence in Columbus this summer, Bunbury can fill the void for those really bumming about the off-year.
And hopefully they’ll discover something new that they really like about Cincinnati in the process.
“I think that because it is in the downtown area, you get that urban feel with looking out onto the water and seeing the bridge and seeing the stadium and the arena right behind you,” Doster said. “Just being right down there in the heart of it all, I think is much different from a lot of festivals where you're further out in the field somewhere, so I think it offers a lot of time and opportunity for activities before and after.”