The local promoter will co-present a show at the Orpheum in June, but that doesn’t mean relations are thawing.
Last summer Charlie Goldstone, president of Madison-based concert promoter Frank Productions, publicly criticized the Orpheum Theatre for partnering up with corporate behemoth Live Nation. So it was a bit surprising to get today’s announcement that Frank will be promoting a Cage The Elephant show on June 5, at the Orpheum and in partnership with Live Nation. How does this square with Goldstone’s remarks on WORT that Live Nation is “the Wal-Mart of concert promoters” and that “it’s sad to see the Orpheum allow [Live Nation] into our market”?
Goldstone isn’t backing off those comments and says the Orpheum has doubled down on barring Frank from putting on shows there. Frank is only involved in the Cage The Elephant show because of its long-standing relationship with the band’s agent and management, Goldstone says. A week after the show was confirmed in February, the Orpheum informed Frank that, in Goldstone’s words, “Frank Productions would not be allowed to participate in any future business at the Orpheum.”
Orpheum general manager Eve Paras would only say today that Frank has indeed been barred from putting on shows at the Orpheum in the future. “Please understand that this is a business matter and we will not comment further on it,” Paras said in an email. The Orpheum and Live Nation announced their partnership last spring, and since then most shows at the Orpheum have been Live Nation shows, with Madison-based Majestic Live often serving as a co-promoter. Over the past year, the three companies have partnered up to launch the Madison Comedy Festival, book Orpheum shows ranging from Patton Oswalt to Behemoth to St. Vincent, and renovate the Orpheum—especially outside, it looks better than it has in years.
Frank Productions in the past has presented many shows at the Orpheum and managed the venue for a brief period after it was foreclosed upon in 2012, following years of disputes and mismanagement. The Paras family, which also owns the Comedy Club On State, bought the theater in 2013 and initially said they would be open to working with multiple promoters. Frank Productions, meanwhile, has run into roadblocks in efforts to build its own Orpheum-sized venue on East Washington Avenue.
Goldstone says that Frank Productions—which also faces increasing competition from Majestic Live in booking small club shows—would still welcome the opportunity to promote shows at the Orpheum again if the owners change their minds. But for now, even as Frank, Live Nation and the Orpheum work on promoting this one show together, Goldstone doesn’t seem to be in a peacemaking mood. He says the Orpheum gave no reason for barring Frank Productions from the venue and he even complained about the specific terms of the Cage The Elephant show. “For Cage The Elephant I am being forced to co-promote with Live Nation so they are taking half the profit,” he says. “I was not allowed to rent the venue myself.”