Café Barnabas hosting weekend concert

Abbie Stuart, [email protected], is freshman English major

Café Barnabas, located inside the Fairlawn Plaza mall at 5331 SW 22nd Place, is hosting a concert this weekend featuring New Zealand ambient rock act The Ember Days and Topeka’s Race Bandit.

Café Barnabas began offering concerts when owner Kevin Christiansen noticed an unusual trend in Topeka’s weekend life.

“We discovered that the community is almost completely void of activity for students to do on the weekends.  So in an effort to try to change that trend, we began doing concerts [to] provide something for students to do,” Christiansen explained.

In the past, Café Barnabas has hosted Nine Lashes, Manic Drive, and Tricia Brock, longtime lead singer for the band Superchick.  In the future, Café Barnabas has plans to host a battle of the bands type concert in October among other concerts.

The proceeds of Saturday’s concert will go to support Haiti Lifeline, who is having their Capitol Craze run that morning, the Topeka Rescue Mission, and Trash Mountain Project.

Café Barnabas is a non-profit, non-religious organization dedicated to serving Topeka’s student population, especially students from ages 13-28.  Café Barnabas was began in 2011 by Christiansen and his wife Debbie after Topeka West High School was rocked by five suicides.

“At the time, I was very challenged by five suicides that happened over at Topeka West High School.  In the frustration, I began questioning if the youth ministry was exactly where God wanted me,” Christiansen said.

He went on to add that he eventually came to the conclusion that God had a different place in mind for him.  As Christiansen and his wife began researching student culture, they found out that students need something called a third space.

“There is work, which for a student is school, there is home…but then they need a third space, outside of those two environments, in which to connect with friends, hang out, simply relax, read a book, whatever.  We discovered that coffee shops, very frequently, were that third space.”

The decision to move from coffee to tea was decided based on the consumer trends of students and the desire to better connect with students based on what they were drinking.

“Nationwide, tea is growing at a rate of over 5 percent a year, which is basically cutting about $2 billion of profit from the carbonated beverage industry.”

This was supported by Christiansen’s own realization that students were bringing two-three cans of Arizona Sweet Tea to events instead of other drinks.

Café Barnabas specializes in bubble tea, which Christiansen describes as a green tea smoothie with fun textures at the bottom, but in reality, they specialize in something else altogether: community.

The concert, which is being held in partnership with 3Fold Live, is set for Saturday, September 13. The doors open at 6pm and the concert will begin at 7.  Admission is $5 at the door.