Just two weekends ago, Ohio Stadium saw a history-making streak of four concerts in a single week, hosting the most back-to-back big-name acts in 101-year history of the ‘Shoe.
A double bill with Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks was followed by the rowdy roster of Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, and master of shock-rock Alice Cooper, culminating in two shows by country superstar Morgan Wallen on Aug. 11-12.
Once the numbers have been crunched, that banner week will have impacted the local economy to the tune of at least $100 million, according to Dave Redelberger, director of communications and interactive marketing for Columbus Arena Sports & Entertainment.
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Now, the train of major performers is ready to roll again, bringing tens of thousands of people — if not more — to Columbus for four coinciding events.
Friday will feature concerts by Boyz II Men at the Columbus Commons and Barry Manilow at Nationwide Arena. It’s also the first day of WonderBus Music & Arts Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at CAS, and the Breakaway Music Festival, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Historic Crew Stadium.
More than 8,000 fans have already claimed every ticket for Boyz II Men, and spokespersons for two of the other events expect brisk sales.
“The love this city has for live events is exciting and it’s great to see how the fans support such a wide range of entertainment,” Redelberger said.
To better understand the impact of these events, the Dispatch spoke with Redelberger, along with Ashley Myers, director of the Columbus Commons, and Denny Young, president of Elevation Festivals, creators and producers of WonderBus.
Question: In your experience, is it common to have so many major events happening at once?
Dave Redelberger: For us, it’s not unusual at all. There have been many nights where we have concerts or events at both arenas and Mershon Auditorium, plus the Clippers or the Crew have a game. We love when Columbus is rocking!
Ashley Myers: Columbus has been booming with high-caliber events, and we’ve loved seeing it evolve over the years. In Downtown, we’ve seen a surge in events of all sizes that are often at the same time, but all complementary.
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Denny Young: We stage music festivals in big cities. There are always multiple events going on over the same weekend in big cities. It is impossible to have the weekend all to ourselves, as much as we would love that!
Q. Are you expecting a large turnout this weekend?
Redelberger: We are! Barry Manilow playing all the hits is always a big draw. He hasn’t played the arenas in several years and the “Fanilows” will be here in full force. It’s truly a multi-generational event with parents bringing their parents and grandparents bringing their grandchildren.
Myers: Absolutely … we’re expecting a completely full house for this community concert.
Young: We are expecting a big turnout all three days of WonderBus. The students will all be back and our festival site at CAS is within walking distance of the Ohio State campus.
Will this ‘collision’ of concerts and festivals impact attendance at your respective event?
Redelberger: Not at all. As Columbus continues to grow, we have a goal of making Columbus the sports and entertainment capital of the Midwest.
Myers: Columbus Commons at its core is a community gathering space, and providing free events is a critical piece to ensuring there’s something for everyone Downtown.
Young: While there might be some audience overlap, we believe that WonderBus, Barry Manilow, Boyz II Men (and) Breakaway … generally appeal to different people and the winners are the fans. There is something for everyone, and the event traffic really speaks to how vibrant Columbus has become.
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When and where is each event?
For the sold-out Boyz II Men show at the Columbus Commons, 160 S. High St.: Gates will open at the Rich Street entrance only at 5 p.m. Friday, with food trucks and bars serving patrons. Columbus band Harmonic Soul will open the show at 7 p.m., followed by Boyz II Men at 8 p.m.
Barry Manilow is set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Nationwide Arena, 200 W. Nationwide Blvd.
WonderBus will be 4-11 p.m. Friday, and 1-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the lawn at CAS, 2540 Olentangy River Road. (Will call is open until 10 p.m. each night.)
Breakaway will be held 4-11 p.m. Friday and 3-11 p.m. Saturday at Historic Crew Stadium, One Black and Gold Blvd.
How much does it cost to attend?
There are no remaining tickets to see Boyz II Men. Tickets for Barry Manilow start at $19.50 at ticketmaster.com.
One-day general admission tickets for WonderBus are $130.80 each, and a weekend ticket is $286.80. Parking passes are $42.25 each day at wonderbusfest.com. Special rates are available for children ages 3-10 and students. Four-packs and a variety of VIP tickets are offered.
General admission to Breakaway is $79 on Friday and $84 on Saturday. Guaranteed parking is $25 per day or $45 for both days at breakawayfestival.com. VIP tickets and parking passes, as well as group rates, are also available.
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Who’s headlining at the festivals?
▪ Friday: Pitbull
The 42-year-old rapper, singer-songwriter, and businessman’s breakthrough hit, “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” went to No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and was followed by the No. 1 hits “Give Me Everything” and “Timber,” featuring singer Kesha.
Also performing: Sean Kingston, Big Freedia, Georgie Kieffer, .wavrunner
▪ Saturday: Demi Lovato
Don’t let headlines about Lovato’s pronouns and personal struggles distract from the powerhouse singer’s four-octave range. Critical praise for that full-bodied voice and numerous hits — “Heart Attack,” “Cool for the Summer,” and “Sober,” among others — indicate that the 31-year-old former child star is more than just a source of sensationalism.
Also performing: Oliver Tree, Surfaces, Chelsea Cutler, Dayglow, others.
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Since releasing its eponymous debut in 2016 and playing under-500-capacity clubs like the Basement, Woodlands Tavern and A&R Bar, Caamp has made an impressive ascent up the Columbus venue ladder. Sellout shows at Newport Music Hall and Kemba Live were followed by a headlining concert at Nationwide Arena.
The band — Upper Arlington natives Taylor Meier and Evan Westfall, along with Matt Vinson and Joseph Kavalec — debuted on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart in 2019. Its second album, “By and By,” debuted at No. 1 on the Heatseekers Albums chart.
Last year, the musicians’ single “Apple Tree Blues” was featured on Barack Obama’s summer playlist, and they collaborated on “Lost,” a song on Paris Jackson’s “The Lost EP.”
Also performing: Portugal. The Man, whose single “Feel It Still” won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in 2017.
For a full list of performers, go to wonderbusfest.com.
▪ Friday: Flume, Chris Lake
Flume is most likely not a household name, but to fans of electronica, he’s something of a pioneer. The Australian DJ and producer’s album “Skin” won Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2017 Grammys, and artists whose songs have gotten the Flume remix treatment include Lorde and Sam Smith.
Chris Lake has also collaborated with notable DJs including Steve Aoki and Skrillex.
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▪ Saturday: Zedd, Porter Robinson
Zedd is a DJ, songwriter and producer who achieved mainstream popularity with the 2012 song “Clarity,” which featured the vocals of British singer Foxes, and earned the Grammy for Best Dance Recording. He also has received copious airplay for his work with artists such as Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Paramore’s Hayley Williams and especially Maren Morris, with whom he created the 2018 hit, “The Middle.” Additionally, co-headliner Robinson co-wrote and sang backup on Zedd’s hit “Clarity.”
There will be numerous supporting acts on both days of Breakaway. Also, White Claw will present a Silent Disco featuring a variety of artists. For a complete list of performers, go to breakwayfestival.com/ohio.
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I’m not a Fanilow or a festival fiend. Are there any other concerts this weekend?
As Lil Baby’s Top 10 hit with Drake says, “Yes, Indeed.” The 28-year-old Atlantan will be performing at Nationwide Arena on Saturday, along with a roster of fellow rappers: GloRilla and Gloss Up, both Memphis natives who came into the rap game as close friends; frequent Lil Baby collaborator Rylo Rodriguez; and conscious rapper/self-proclaimed “street poet” Hunxho. Tickets for the show start at $59.50 at ticketmaster.com.