Pictured are members of CLUBHOUSE, a local band that recently won the 2017 Firefly Music Festival’s Big Break Global Competition.

Pictured are members of CLUBHOUSE, a local band that recently won the 2017 Firefly Music Festival’s Big Break Global Competition.

Photo courtesy of: CLUBHOUSE

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Students’ band wins contest to perform at music festival


With a little help from the Bobcat family and the Athens community, a local band composed of four Ohio University students won the 2017 Firefly Music Festival’s Big Break Global Competition and will be performing at the four-day festival this summer. 

CLUBHOUSE beat out nine other up-and-coming bands that festival organizers selected as finalists for the contest. Beginning March 10 and determined by online voting, one band was eliminated each day.

All five members of the band met in Athens and formed CLUBHOUSE in April 2015. Four of the band members – Ari and Zak Blumer, juniors who are studying engineering physics in the Honors Tutorial College; Max Reichert, who is studying business marketing; and Ben Saulnier, a junior who is studying music production – are full-time Ohio University students. The band’s keyboardist and backup vocalist, Michael Berthold, attends Ohio State University.

Upon hearing that they were finalists in the contest, the band members immediately enlisted the help of their fellow Bobcats. 

“I reached out to the media school and business school, and they emailed every one of their students. I reached out to the physics department, and they sent emails to the faculty. It’s been really wild to see OU come together like that to support us,” said Zak Blumer, the band’s drummer. “Every day we would refresh our computers at midnight and hope we were still in the standing.”

After a lot of voting, waiting and hoping, CLUBHOUSE was announced as the contest’s winner on March 20.

“We wanted this really badly, and the support that came when we needed it was unbelievable,” said Saulnier, the band’s bassist.

Finding out that they would be performing on stage at the Firefly Music Festival was a moment come full circle for the members of CLUBHOUSE who just two years ago were among the audience at the music festival held in Dover, Delaware. 

“We all distinctly remember having a conversation about wishing we were up there playing,” said Ari Blumer, the band’s lead guitarist. “Now we have this opportunity to play, and there are no words for how crazy that feels.”

To win the contest, CLUBHOUSE had to prove they had good music, experience and a good following. The band has performed in venues around Ohio and locally at The Union, Jackie O’s, Casa Nueva and OHIO’s very own Front Room Coffeehouse. 

Now the band is gearing up for its largest performance to date.

“We’re in the process of making some major changes to our live show to prepare for Firefly,” said Ari Blumer. “We’re definitely going to bring some of the songs that got us to this point, but we want our show to be at a much higher level than anything we’ve done before — both in our performance and our music.”

The Firefly Music Festival is one of the largest music festivals in the country and is scheduled for June 15-18 at The Woodlands in Dover, Delaware. Festival headliners this year include Grammy-winning artists like Bob Dylan, Chance the Rapper, The Weeknd, Twenty One Pilots and Muse. CLUBHOUSE is scheduled to perform at 12:45 p.m. Friday, June 16, on the festival’s Treehouse Stage. 

“Performing at a music festival with a name like Firefly is a major step for any band. We understand that, and we are so excited for the things to come,” said Zak Blumer.

“To our fans—thank you so much. We wouldn’t have been able to win without the people voting, sharing our posts on social media and telling other people to vote,” said Saulnier. “This experience has shown us how close-knit this community is, and that’s one of the reasons we love OU.”

For more information about CLUBHOUSE and to follow the band as it makes its Firefly debut, visit the band’s Facebook page and its website and follow the band on Twitter and Instagram at @clubhouse_music.