Local musicians of Caamp go from opening act to headliner at Nationwide Arena – The Columbus Dispatch

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In 2012, after Evan Westfall and Taylor Meier graduated from high school in Upper Arlington, Meier started college at Ohio University in Athens, and Westfall moved down to the city, where they played music together in bars and coffee shops.

In 2016, the duo released their first album as Caamp, with Meier on guitar and Westfall on banjo.

In 2019, the band added Matt Vinson on bass and Joe Kavalec on keyboards.

On Friday — after working their way up through Columbus venues from The Basement through last year’s two outdoor performances at Kemba Live — they will be headlining a concert at Nationwide Arena.

The performances cap off a year in which the folk rockers released their third studio album, “Lavender Days,” and headlined shows in Boston, New York and Denver.

Westfall, 28, spoke by phone from his home in Columbus about the upcoming show and what the band has been up to lately.

Question: How are you going to prepare for headlining an arena show for the first time?

Westfall: It’ll be nice waking up at home that day. I’ll be able to make a cup of coffee, have a banana, and drive to the venue. I’ll pour myself a bourbon an hour before the show and sit there and sip on it, and tell a few jokes with the lads and walk out on the stage.

Q: Will this be a show with a lot of bells and whistles, or will the music be central?

Westfall: We just want to make it as much of a club show as possible. We’re going to approach it as if we were playing the Newport Music Hall or The Basement or the Ace of Clubs or any club in town, sort of bring that mentality to it. We have a lighting tech now, so there are these cool lights. But Tay and I didn’t go into this band thinking that we were going to be an arena act someday. That was never our mission. So, this will be just a normal show.

Q: Are you intimidated by the idea of performing at Nationwide Arena?

Westfall: I’ve kind of shaken the nerves at this point. Back in the day, I used to be pretty nervous before shows. At one point in the past couple years, I realized that everyone is sort of on your side, and they’re going to support you no matter what, and it’s OK to mess up on stage. We all do it every once in a while. And the crowd is with us in those moments.

Q: What do each of the band members add to the mix?

Westfall: Taylor is a phenomenal poet, and he can put things into words that I simply cannot. He has a very poetic way of describing certain emotions. It’s a treat to be able to collaborate with him for that reason. And I love melody. Melody is my first love. So, I bring melody and instrumentation and that sort of thing. Matt is also an incredible poet, but he’s also an audio engineer. He went to school for that. He knows how to record and mix really well. Sonically, he knows a lot more than me and Tay do about the ins and outs of a mixing board. And he’s an incredible musician on top of all that. And Joe plays the keys. None of the rest of us know how to play the keys, so he adds a lot.

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Q: What’s next for Caamp after the Nationwide Arena show?

Westfall: “We haven’t had too many chances to get out to Europe. (The group plans a European tour, with two stops in Germany, two in the Netherlands and one in London.) The Nationwide show was supposed to be our last show this year. But we decided to tack this on, since we had a couple weeks left in the year, and I think we were supposed to go out there in 2020. So, this was sort of our makeup for that. The crowds are always super fun there. And we get to play smaller venues there, which is fun for us. Scale down and play 500-cap rooms again. It’s a treat.

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At a glance

Caamp will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Nationwide Arena, 200 W. Nationwide Blvd. Tickets start at $29.50. (www.nationwidearena.com)