As the clock neared midnight Sunday, Max Reichert and twin brothers Ari and Zak Blumer sat in their dimly-lit house on Mill Street, anxious. The Ohio University students were hitting refresh on a laptop and crossing their fingers.
In Columbus, fellow OU student Ben Saulnier was visiting his girlfriend and Michael Berthold was getting ready for bed, having to work early in the morning.
The five members of Clubhouse were all waiting for the news that has now thrust the Ohio-based indie-pop band into the national spotlight: the band won the Big Break Global Contest and, come June, will be heading to Firefly Music Festival in Delaware. The festival bill includes world-famous superstars like Bob Dylan, Chance the Rapper, Twenty One Pilots, The Weeknd and Weezer.
Midnight came and midnight went, with no official announcement, but alone on the webpage was a photo of the five’s band, Clubhouse.
Saulnier heard the news from the text messages that quickly flooded his inbox. Berthold’s roommates at Ohio State University burst into his bedroom and popped a bottle of champagne. Reichert and the Blumer twins headed to The C.I. for a celebratory drink.
“It’s an anxious excitement, for sure,” Saulnier, the band’s bassist and a junior studying music production, said. “You’re promoting this so hard, it dawned on me, ‘Oh, if we win, we’re like actually playing on a stage at this insane festival.’”
On social media, the band heavily promoted the contest, which allowed one vote per person each day. At the end of each day, one band was eliminated, up until Sunday night, when Clubhouse stood alone.
“They did it, like, the most nerve-wracking way, I think,” Ari, the lead guitarist and a junior studying engineering physics, said with a laugh. “By eliminating one band a day, it was very intense.”
It wasn’t just social media promotion, though. The band members actively contacted just about everyone they know — Zak even got in touch with teachers from elementary school.
“People I haven’t talked to in years are reaching out and saying ‘congratulations’ and ‘hey, I voted every day for you guys,” Ari said.
This won’t be the first time Clubhouse has been to Firefly, but it will be its first time on stage there. The band attended the festival in 2015 during its first summer performing together.
“It was just a very, very ... amazing time,” Zak, the band’s drummer and a junior studying engineering physics, said. “Anytime I go to a show or see anyone perform, ever, all I think about is, ‘I wish I was there.’”
The Big Break Global Contest will give the band the opportunity to perform on a national stage in front of thousands of fans.
“Festivals are a completely different animal,” Zak said. “Most of them are really difficult to get booked on unless you have a booking agency.”
Saulnier was exhausted Sunday night, having just returned to Ohio from a university-sponsored trip to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
“I went and saw my girlfriend and she was freaking out super hard. … She was a little bummed that I was just so pumped that I could go to sleep,” he said. “Then it hit me this morning. I just woke up to so much craziness and my parents leaving a half-excited, half-in tears voicemail.”