Wonderbus sets standard for music festivals to follow

Photo Credit: Avery Callison

Photo Credit: Avery Callison

Avery Callison

   In August 2022, Columbus, Ohio hosted the annual Wonderbus Music and Arts Festival and delivered culinary offerings, amazing crowds, and an impressive line-up.

   The festival was back for its second year after the COVID-19 pandemic. From August 26 to 28, Wonderbus packed The Law at CAS with headliners Duran Duran, Lorde, and The Lumineers. I was lucky enough to attend the last day of the event. 

   The evening was not only meant to entertain but also to benefit innovation in mental health treatment and research at Central Ohio’s largest hospitals. 

   According to WCBE, “WonderBus is not only an amazing music festival, it is a platform to talk about mental health and provide all of us with hope and resilience,” CAS Vice President Dr. Michael Dennis said.

   All throughout the day, the sun bore down on the lawn which drew many fans to the lemonade and ice cream stands. Adjacent to these stood various food options, spanning from tacos to funnel cakes. Brave souls enjoyed a thick and creamy meal of pulled pork mac and cheese. Due to the popularity of the festival and the culinary geniuses behind it all, lines for food stands stretched far out into the seating areas and it was difficult to find a vendor without 10 to 15 people already set in front of it. However, the taste of the food was appetizing and presentable nonetheless.

   The festival also took part to host several small business tents around the lawn. The scene was reminiscent of a Saturday farmers market with unique items such as rings made from spoons, sustainable sneakers, and custom t-shirts. It was practical in the way that attendees could browse around the tents in between the artists’ sets.

   At around 4:00 pm, as fans started to claim parking spots, Colony House echoed throughout the field with a track from their first album, When I Was Younger. The track, Silhouettes, embodied the feel of the summer festival with the vibrant tunes of the guitar and the faded, sunny orchestra of lead singer Caleb Chapman’s voice. Other artists who filtered in throughout the day included James Bay, Beach Bunny, Morgxn, Mills, and more. However, the day in truth belonged to The Lumineers. 

   As the sun dropped into the horizon and the breeze became cool, at around 8:45 pm, The Lumineers took to the main stage. Everyone rose from their picnic blankets and retractable chairs as the band opened with a favorite from their latest album, Brightside. Purple, blue, and yellow lights danced across the stage as The Lumineers delivered an incredible performance, with fan favorites from their debut album all the way to their most recent release in 2022.

   Towards the end of their gig, they featured a new track named Birthday, dedicated to all those in the audience who came for their special day. Other hits included Cleopatra, Ho Hey, Angela, Flowers In Your Hair, Ophelia, and Sleep On the Floor. Passionate voices in the audience sang the lyrics of each track, through manners of a quiet whisper all the way to a loud belt, dependent upon the vibe of the song. 

   As the night progressed and darkness overcame the lawn, fans began to depart from the festival. For their closing track at around 10:20 pm, The Lumineers came back out for one last encore performance of Stubborn Love for the 2022 Wonderbus season. Confetti streamed down from the ceiling of the stage as the violinist fiddled out the last few notes of the song.

   All in all, the Wonderbus Music and Arts Festival was nothing but an enjoyable experience and has set a high standard for years to come. The lineup for the 2023 festival in August will be announced later this year.