Since its grand opening in 2015, Urban Artifact has become a staple in the Cincinnati music scene. Located in the eclectic Northside neighborhood, Urban Artifact is the place to be for music, artfully crafted sour beers, and a celebration of Wild Culture! I sat down for a chat with booking manager, Jeremy Moore, over what else but a delicious sour beer.
KP: You didn’t start here at Urban Artifact as the booking manager. Can you tell me how you started here and how it evolved to you running the show?
JM: When I started here, I think there were 7 or 8 different booking managers. I was doing shows here and there for Urban Artifact and some shows for The Mockbee and booking through a couple people that had connections at MOTR. I was in a band and I really liked booking for my own band so natural progression led me here and they gave me a chance. I started booking some really good shows and was really consistent so eventually it went from 7 or 8 people booking for Urban Artifact to just me booking 95% of the shows.
KP: That is the perfect segue to my next question! You said you have great acts consistently coming through here which is absolutely true. What do you think it is about Urban Artifact as a venue that it not only draws great acts 6-7 days/week but also keeps them wanting to come back? I know I always want to play here and everyone I know loves playing here!
JM: I really think it’s a combo of the atmosphere--we are in a church that was built in the 1800s. It’s just a really cool spot plus the amazing, eclectic, different sort of beer than what you’re used to everywhere else. Also, the sound here. We have Devin Brooks and Andrew Tetrick. Scott Hand, one of the owners--I think his minor was in acoustics. Everything is scientifically placed. To be in a church basement with concrete floors it’s amazing how good it sounds, and a lot of what bands comment on when they want to come back is the sound being good.
KP: Has UA always had music 6-7 days/week?
JM: I’m not really sure if they were doing 7 days when they opened. We are currently doing 6 days/week. We have acoustic stuff on Mondays and Sunday is kinda our off day. There are so many good bands in Cincinnati that I could book festival after festival every weekend for months and months and still not get everybody in that is good.
KP: The obvious thing we need to talk about is Bewilderfest. Can you tell us a little bit about how Bewilderfest came to be and has evolved over the years?
JM: The first year we started it was strictly local/regional. It was one stage--the downstairs stage and I wanted to have a really cool music festival. I’ve been around the scene forever whether it’s being in a band or being a fan so I just kinda wanted to create something and Urban Artifact had enough faith in me at this point to be like ‘yeah go ahead and do this’. My goal was to make every year bigger than the last. The first year we started downstairs, the second year it was two floors. Last year we did 3 stages and incorporated national acts. This year we already have the 3 stages and we already have the national acts so let’s just add more national acts! It allows for bands that normally might not get the opportunity to open for a national act to do so. It’s hard to book with a national act because there are so many bands but if you’re part of a festival you can allow bands to open for these national acts and put it on their resume or press kit. If they want to further themselves in the industry, it’s good to be able to say ‘yeah I opened for Moon Hooch or Colts or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or something. It’s just progression. The first year was free and the second year there was a $5 cover. The prices have gone up just because there are so many national headliners. With the VIP package you get tickets to both days, t shirts, a fanny pack, and other merch. If you want to come all weekend it is well worth it to get the VIP package. Even so, with each day being $30 or a weekend pass for $50 for all the bands on the bill I think that’s fair.
KP: I agree! You do get the people that don’t want to pay for shows but there are also so many people that want to support artists.
JM: Everywhere I’ve played out of town with my band--no body is free. I don’t think I’ve ever played a free show out of town. To have so many good bands here in Cincinnati it’s a good thing and a bad thing that most shows are free. I’ve started to implicate a small $5 cover charge on the weekends so bands can gauge where they’re really at. Can you engage? Can you promote? I think a lot of people get lost in things being free that they lose track of promoting their band. We just want to support the artists that way.
KP: That tells me you are going to book shows every night and do it right. You are going to respect their time and talent that way and I think that’s very important.
JM: I think that’s one of the reasons--when I got hired in the first place and then promoted to sole booking manager-- Scott said ‘hey look you’re in a band. I think that’s important for a booker to have been in a band. You know the artists’ struggle and you don’t want to rip them off.’ I have equated booking to a sports team almost. All these other venues are the other teams and you want to put the best line up you can against all these other teams every single night. You want to “win” but at the same time you want to support everybody. So, you’re not like out for blood or anything like that but if you’re a booker you want your venue to succeed.
KP: How many people contact you weekly asking to play? How do you manage it?
JM: I couldn’t calculate really how many inquires I get today. Enough that I don’t have my Facebook messenger notifications on. It’s easier to keep track through email. Per week? Probably hundreds and hundreds per week. I do vet my bands and no matter who sends something in I’m going to listen to your music. If you’re good, I’ll book you. I don’t care what genre it is. As long as your band has something to offer people you can play here.
KP: Is there any other news or info you’d like to share?
JM: I know they are doing a lot of renovations upstairs to increase capacity. We got voted best wedding reception venue in Cincinnati by City Beat. We have weddings here through the spring and fall on weekends. Throughout the week want to turn this into a place that can house national acts and have locals play with them. Right now, upstairs is 448 capacity and they are trying to get it to 600-650.
Bewilderfest is August 23-24 at Urban Artifact.