Though Columbus might not rank among great American music cities such as Nashville or Detroit, a movement has risen to push the Ohio capital to the forefront of the electronic scene.
The first annual “What Next Ohio,” an electronic music showcase, is scheduled for Jan. 14 at Newport Music Hall. It features local acts Cassius Slay, Burgle, Hotmess, Dirty Current, Mike Textbeak, Funerals, Shin Tower Music, Dustin Knell and more.
Conner Campassi, member of Dirty Current and Ohio State alumnus, said the diverse group of artists make the showcase different from any electronic music concert Columbus has seen.
“A show this big with a lineup this diverse doesn’t happen very often,” Campassi said. “So it’s a really good opportunity to expose people to the underground scene of electronic music in Ohio.”
Scotty Niemet, coordinator and promoter, said he was pleasantly surprised the Newport is hosting local artists, something that doesn’t happen very often. He said he hopes the proximity to campus will help expose students to electronic music.
“Newport is in the heart of OSU,” Niemet said. “We’re saying, ‘Hey OSU, this is right here at your front door, we want you to come be a part of it.'”
Niemet said the popularity of dance-based, mainstream music has blurred the genres of electronic and pop. He said he wants people to look past the label of electronic music because it is more varied than people think.
“There are so many sub-genres; you have dubstep, pseudo-rave music, but at the same time you have a band like Funerals, which is more mellow, or Shin Tower Music with live drums,” Niemet said. “There are just different aspects of it. We’re gonna throw everything out on the table, so people can pick and choose what they like.”
Cassius Slay, who describes his music as “electronic with a Latin vibe,” said Columbus has always had an underground dance music scene, but most OSU students don’t know about it.
“Now that electronic music is becoming more popular, people are starting to realize that we’ve been here for a while,” Slay said. “This is our way to show Ohio State students what we’re doing here.”
Slay, who has performed in Columbus for five years, said he thinks most students are into new music, but they look elsewhere to find it.
“I feel like the college crowd is always finding these artists from around the country who are also in college, like Mac Miller or Mike Posner, but the same thing is happening here, and they should embrace it,” Slay said.
Gilberto Covarrubias, a fourth-year in political science, said he is excited to see how OSU students will respond to the event.
“The showcase is embracing the more experimental, progressive, forward-thinking styles of electronic music that don’t normally go into the larger venues,” Covarrubias said. “I want to see how students feel about it.”
Covarrubias said he hopes the event will fuel smaller parties around Columbus and a wider knowledge of electronic music.
“If you support local artists, it allows there to be a venue for it,” Covarrubias said. “It just adds to the culture.”
Niemet said the artists are scheduled throughout the night based on the energy of their music. He said the bands playing earlier in the evening are more laid-back, but “by 1 o’clock it’s going to be a huge dance party.”
The show is open to all ages. It runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets are $7-$10 at the door.