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Festival Review: Steadfast offers a diverse lineup in just one night

Chicago-based rock band Cardinal Harbor plays on the Gallery Stage at Steadfast Festival on May 6. Credit: Abbey Jeffers

I first heard about Steadfast Festival through a friend who had signed up to volunteer. I was immediately interested –– music festivals are always a lot of fun, and with several of the more prominent festivals in Columbus disappearing, I was eager to check out something I had never heard of before. I was also interested to see how it would compare to some of the other local festivals, like Independents’ Day, the local-centric music and arts festival in Franklinton. As it turns out, Steadfast not only is a great time, but also has an identity and charm of its own, making it a fantastic addition to the Columbus music scene.

The festival, hosted by Veritas Community Church, took place on three stages –– the Main Stage, the Gallery Stage, and the Lounge Stage. Throughout the day, the Gallery and Lounge Stages were active at the same time, alternating performances with the larger Main Stage at the center of the church. The Gallery Stage featured artwork hung around the room for some welcome visual character. There was also vending from Mikey’s Late Night Slice and Speranza Coffee Co., which I definitely appreciated as the day went on.

With only one day and three stages, Steadfast is definitely smaller than most festivals in town. What sets it apart, however, is the lineup. Steadfast founder Ryan Getz said his goal was to bring a wide range of genres and styles to one event, and the lineup definitely reflects that.

There was also geographic diversity in the lineup. Mountains Like Wax is from Nashville, while Cardinal Harbor is from Chicago and headliner The Classic Crime traveled all the way from Seattle along with Matt and Toby. Many of the festivals in Columbus skew heavily towards either local acts, like Independents’ Day, or touring ones, like PromoWest Fest, but Steadfast falls somewhere in between. It fits comfortably into its own niche and offers a diverse and exciting experience in just one day.

Thanks to the proximity of the stages, I was able to watch part of almost every act on the bill. When I walked into the festival, I was only familiar with a couple of the artists in the lineup, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying just about every performance I saw throughout the day. Local group Canadian Waves played energetic, stripped-back garage rock, while Year of the Buffalo played quiet, contemplative folk music later at the same stage. Jetty Bones told stories between songs and got the audience to sing along, while Matt and Toby made the entire room laugh with snarky banter and a well-timed Katy Perry cover.

Headliner The Classic Crime drew the largest and most enthusiastic crowd of the night by far, although they had stiff competition from local hard-rockers Zoo Trippin’ right after. I even saw a couple of hip-hop acts, courtesy of producer Satele and rapper and spoken word poet Keyoung. It’s safe to say that there was something for everyone at this festival and out of all the bands I saw, there wasn’t a weak moment throughout the day.

Although small, Steadfast Festival was charming. It’s obvious that a lot of work went into putting this lineup together, and the end result was something different and entertaining. Though this is only the festival’s second year, I have little doubt that it will soon become a highlight of the music scene here in Columbus. If you love live music and you’re down to check out some bands you might not know yet, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday than at Steadfast.

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