Gnarbaque Music + Arts Festival Review and Photo Recap

Article and Photos by Jon Toland

The 5th Annual Gnarbeque Music + Arts Festival wrapped up its phenomenal event on July 8. Over fifty artists performed to a huge audience who were by no means deterred by the heat. From fire-breathing to fairy paintings, hardcore bands screaming into the sun, and reggae bands vibing with the crowd, this festival had it all. Gnarbaque is a special little fest held in the heart of Columbus, Ohio

Photo by Jon Toland

Let’s Rock

What started as a small party for the band Tourist Trap has, over the years, morphed into a massive two-stage performance hosted at Woodland’s Backyard. Live painting took place next to the main stage a few steps away from hula hoops set ablaze, twirling around the heads of some magnificent local talent. Folks laughed inside to stand-up comedians while fans raged outside to Weed Demon shredding his guitar while dressed in a hotdog costume. Weed Demon is so gnarly they were dropped from this year’s Comfest lineup due to the festival’s insurance provider, allegedly stating they would not provide the required assault and battery coverage if Weed Demon was allowed to play.

Zoo Trippin’ was Gnarbeque’s mystery set, and they certainly did not disappoint. They had the audience moshing on the amps as the sun went down. Lead vocalist Tony Casa had the most energy on stage that night, and the audience was just as hyped. The final set outside Saturday was Asadi; running on two hours of sleep, he pumped out mind-blowing Persian trap music to an eager and welcoming crowd. Asadi is a pioneer of Persian trap, and hearing his work in a live setting was a beautiful experience. As he strode onto a dimly lit stage, the anticipation was palpable in the air. With the glow of nearby fire-breathers, Asadi kept the momentum going long into the night with his enchanting melodies and explosive drops.

Asadi – Photo by Jon Toland

Beating the Heat

A must-see was Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, who recently played at Electric Forest. Thankfully, they came to Columbus to bust out some groovy tunes for everyone. This eclectic musical group had an arsenal of instruments to woo the crowd. From violins to saxophones, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers’s musical ensemble put on an unforgettable show here at the 5th annual Gnarbeque Music + Arts Festival. 

Lily in the Weeds had myself and the audience in tears as they performed their final set before the band went their separate ways. Lead singer Alex Burnsides felt the fan’s love as roses were thrown on stage and the band gave their final farewells. To witness the deep emotional connection between Lily in the Weeds and their fanbase is what music is all about. Miller and The Hunks exhibited a similar synergy with everyone attending, thankfully Gnarbeque Festival was not their final performance. Vocalist Colin Miller sang with such passion and heartfelt interaction with the crowd that made for one of the top performances of the night. If Miller and the Hunks are ever in your area do not hesitate to check them out.

Not only was the music rocking; Preston’s: A Burger Joint was busy all weekend slinging some of the tastiest morsels this side of the Midwest. Gnarbeque was an incredible experience and an absolute must for any newcomer or veteran to the music festival scene. Looking forward to seeing Gnarbeque festival continue to grow and host jaw-dropping music and art for many years to come.

Miller and the Hunks – Photo by Jon Toland


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