Live Nation has already established its stake in the Twin Cities concert market with the announcement of its inaugural River’s Edge Festival coming up on Harriet Island later this month, and today they unveiled another big flag-planting — they’ve hired Varsity Theater talent buyer Josh Lacey to join their team and he, along with the venue, will enter into an exclusive booking and promotion agreement with their House of Blues Entertainment.
One immediate question that comes to mind is how this will affect the 750-person capacity Dinkytown venue. “The Varsity’s ownership is not changing,” says Lacey, explaining that the change means he’s, “now a House of Blues and Live Nation employee. But everything about the Varsity, from the team that’s in place to the way I’ve done my job, is staying the same. My hope is that my experience with House of Blues will open my eyes to their network and help me book stronger talent and better shows.”
House of Blues chief operating officer Ben Weeden echoed that sentiment. “There should not be a noticeable change,” he says. “Josh does a heck of a job booking the venue already. If anything, what happens is the Varsity becomes part of our network of partner venues,” which includes 38 affiliated clubs and theaters nationwide. “If there are tours going out that hadn’t had Minneapolis on the routing yet, we would be looking to make sure the Varsity gets those shows.”
Weeden says that Live Nation has been hoping to grow a stronger presence to the Twin Cities for some time now, and that the fact they’ve strengthened their foothold at the same time that AEG opened their new venue, The Brick, was simply a coincidence. “We’ve both been working in the market to get our respective events and venues going,” he says.
As part of his new role, Lacey will also start booking House of Blues events at other venues in town, including the Pantages, State, and Orphuem theaters. House of Blues started out as a single themed venue in Cambridge, Massachussets back in 1992 and has since expanded to an array of venues throughout the U.S.; Live Nation acquired the House of Blues chain in 2006.