Tourist Trap performing at Express Live. Photo credit: Claire Kudika

The four-piece band, Tourist Trap, who defines their music as “alternative porch punk,” has never tried to repurpose their music for the purpose of making money.

Instead, they have created their own sound, trying to harness a Midwest rock n’ roll feel that might be different from what most punk fans are used to.

“We’re a little toned down from punk. I don’t have the grit in my voice to be a true punk singer,” said Roberto Bryer, lead singer and guitarist. “That’s not really what we were trying to go for either.”

This unorthodox genre goes well with their unconventional beginnings: Bryer and Nathan Weirich, guitarist for the band, met on Craigslist and had their first live show in their front yard.

“We threw our very first show at our own house and called it the ‘Gnarbecue’ because we didn’t know how to get booked anywhere else,” Zach Barnes, bassist, said. “We didn’t have any music recorded, we were just starting to make it in the scene.”

Since their first “Gnarbecue,” the front-yard show has grown into something much bigger than a convenient venue for the band. It’s expanded into a “mini, wannabe Comfest.”

“It’s a little bit of a community festival, little bit of an art show, little bit of a party,” Bryer said.

Since the first show, Tourist Trap has come a long way. The band opened for Franz Ferdinand at Express Live on April 14.

Bryer said he only remembers walking onto stage and then walking off. The adrenaline he felt blocked everything else out.

The biggest difference for percussionist, Ty Phillips, between a smaller venue and a larger one was being able to hear the crowd screaming after a song. Playing at a venue like Express Live is a huge step up in the Columbus music scene.

“Our plan is to build up our Columbus presence and have our digital music reach the masses, that way when we do plan a tour, we’ll always have Columbus as a foundation,” Bryer said. “There will be places where people already know the music so we’re not just playing 12-person clubs.”

Despite his band’s success at Express Live, Bryer still believes Tourist Trap is a “bar band,” although they hope to be more than that someday. Phillips and Bryer both want music to be their full-time jobs..  

“I’ve been realizing when I’m sitting at work, even though I love my job, all I’m thinking about is playing drums,” Phillips said. “It’s scary to say I do want to do this for the rest of my life, but I can’t ignore it anymore.”

Until then, Tourist Trap plans on continuing the path they’re on. Currently, they are working on a single with an accompanying music video.

“We’re just going to keep making our music and putting out independent records and hopefully people enjoy them, and maybe one day we’ll make it,” Bryer said.

Tourist Trap will be playing at 6 p.m. May 5 at Paradise Garage in the Short North as a part of the Gallery Hop. Admission is free.