The Free Times Music Crawl: A True Columbia Experience

It has returned to us. For the first time since 2012, Free Times Music Crawl has graced Columbia once more (and hopefully for many more times to come). For those who are unaware, Free Times Music Crawl is a collection of shows held at multiple venues all at the same time around the city of Columbia. Only one ticket is necessary for entry, so purchasing a $15 ticket (or $12 ticket if purchased early) grants you access into all four shows. With 21 artists lined up to play, you’re paying less than $1 per artist, which ends up being a steal. The venues this year were Art Bar, The Aristocrat, Hunter-Gatherer, and Trustus Theatre. I really appreciated not only the fact that Free Times provided a map of all of venues as well as walking directions to each venue, but that they worked with the City of Columbia to have the Soda City Cap Connector stay open late to transport people between the venues.

One thing that I personally found disheartening about Music Crawl logistically was that I was not able to attend the events at The Aristocrat nor Art Bar, as both are 21+ venues. There were many acts at both venues that I was thrilled to go see (acts such as Katera, Niecy Blues, The Lovely Few, Blocker, Fat Rat da Czar, and more), and it was disappointing to not be able to see any of them. I know that this is not a problem for everyone and that it’s ultimately up to the venue, however I feel that with Music Crawl’s goal of showcasing and celebrating local music, it limits how far the event can reach as people of all ages were not able to experience all that Music Crawl and Columbia have to offer.

Despite this, I still had a fantastic time. The shows I were able to attend at Hunter-Gatherer and Trustus Theatre were absolutely incredible, and I assume that the shows at The Aristocrat and Art Bar were on the same level as the others. I had my doubts for Trustus Theatre as a music venue, but it fit the lineup perfectly. You could just sit down and relax in the seats of the theatre while vibing to the sounds of Cayla Fralick, George Fetner and the Strays, NUMBTONGUE, The Restoration, and Dear Blanca. My personal favorite that I was able to catch was NUMBTONGUE. I loved their fusing of elements from R&B, psychrock, and 90’s alternative to create a wonderfully blissful sonic experience.

In contrast to the gentle jamming at Trustus Theatre, Hunter-Gatherer was a chaotic romp all night. With hard rock and metal acts all not long, the only time the atmosphere wasn’t cranked to 11 was when bands were changing. I spent the majority of my time at Hunter-Gatherer because I loved the high-energy and open space of it. The raw emotion and criticism from Nepotism an the harsh vocals and high energy from Soul Press hands down made the Hunter-Gatherer my personal favorite of the night. Sadly I wasn’t able to see Death Becomes Even the Maiden as I wanted to go back to Trustus during that time, however I heard that they kept the same amazing energy and performance as everyone else.

Overall I had an absolute blast at Music Crawl. I was able to experience new music, new venues, and Columbia in general walking between all the venues. It was a night of exploration for me and you could tell just how much hard work and love went into setting everything up. Shout out to the Free Times for bringing a pillar of the Columbia music scene back, and I can’t wait to see what they do next year.

Luis Rodriguez