By Madison Fessler
Westside Bowl is celebrating its fifth anniversary with West Fest on March 25. The entertainment venue opened in 2018 and started West Fest to celebrate its one-year anniversary, however it had to close during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the third West Fest since the pandemic. Nathan Offerdahl, owner of Westside Bowl, said the alley took a hit during the pandemic, but he’s thankful to host West Fest again.
“Having to cancel basically an entire month of events in our second anniversary year was by far the most difficult thing that we’ve had to go through,” Offerdahl said.
Offerdahl also said he believes the public has a lot of pent up demand for live music as people are becoming more comfortable with being in large crowds again. He anticipates this year’s West Fest will have the biggest crowd yet.
Ryan Racketa, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist for East 9th, works with his bandmates to pick out the bands to play at West Fest. East 9th started West Fest in 2019, and it has chosen bands for the festival every year since.
The headliner is picked based on how long it has been around and its reach. This year’s West Fest headliner was chosen because audiences wanted to see the band play again.
“Our headliner this year is Moondivers — reason being this is their first show in almost two years … this is kind of the show that encouraged them to get back together and do another gig,” Racketa said.
Racketa said East 9th plans to get a mix of bands that fit within the alternative indie-rock genre. The bands are local and have varying degrees of exposure.
“We’re always just looking to get a good mix of local bands. You know, we’ve had some that are newer, more up and coming, just starting out. And we have bands that have been around for several years,” Racketa said.
One of the bands performing at West Fest is The Goners. TJ Logue, singer and guitarist for The Goners, said he’s excited for the adrenaline rush of being on stage.
“For me my favorite part of performing is just the adrenaline rush you get from moving around and dancing on stage [it’s] kind of like a sport, it’s like exercise in a sense,” Logue said.
Logue and The Goners’ drummer Justin Barnett said they enjoy performing their show opener ‘Only in Love,’ and it sets up a good time for the rest of their show. Barrett said they are thrilled to be playing at West Fest and showing a crowd what they’re capable of.
“We have something that we can really wow the crowd with … being out there and showing what our minds can cook up and what they’re capable of doing,” Barnett said.
Guitarist and lead vocalist for Speedo Agreedo, Mike Leko, stated this is the band’s first West Fest performance. However, it’s performed at Westside Bowl previously, and is one of its favorite venues to play.
“Westside Bowl is a world-class venue. They have amazing sound, and talented staff. They don’t leave much to be desired,” Leko stated.
Leko stated he has two songs he’s excited to play at West Fest, along with some new music that’s not on its recent album.
“I am excited to play our song ‘Hot Shot’ that’s probably my favorite song from our album. ‘Creepin’ is the one we rock out on the hardest … ‘La Dee Do’ is probably our most danceable tune and it [is] always a good time,” Leko stated.
Doors for West Fest open at 4 p.m. and music starts at 5 p.m. There are eight bands lined up to play. Tickets can be purchased for $10 on westsidebowl.com.