Five years later… 

Five years after taking control of the historic Tower Theatre, Beer City Music Hall is open for business, filling a gap in Oklahoma City’s musical market, with venues bolstered by the new SaveLive partnership.

click to enlarge Chad Whitehead speaks to the crowd at Tower Theatre.

Madelyn Amacher

Chad Whitehead speaks to the crowd at Tower Theatre.


In March 2017, my business partner Stephen Tyler and I had a dream to make Tower Theatre a world-class concert venue in the heart of our beloved Uptown 23rd entertainment district. We also had no money, an unfinished building, and an empty calendar. We were under intense pressure to open as soon as possible and basically lived there that summer. I remember touching up the paint in the artist’s green room at Tower Theatre while the tour bus was backing into the lot for our first concert. Somehow, by August, we were open and hosting concerts regularly.

 

Five years hence, the landscape of live music in OKC has changed. While people are still traveling to Tulsa or Dallas for shows, great live music is being booked locally.

“Five years ago, Oklahoma City had finally become a market artists could grow in. We had a variety of sizes of venues and more importantly, people were starting to go to shows in a bigger way,” said Scott Booker, CEO of the Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO and manager of The Flaming Lips.

 

Oklahoma City’s live music landscape is changing again as we open Beer City Music Hall, a new 500-capacity venue in the heart of the Iron Works District. With the help of our partners at SaveLive, a music startup co-founded by Marc Geiger, the former Global Head of Music for the largest booking agency in the world and co-founder of Lollapalooza, we now have the financial and structural backing to continue what we do best — bring first-class music to OKC.

 

The people at SaveLive aren’t a group of khaki-wearing, corporate overlords, but a hard-working team of music business professionals that are serious about transforming the industry and developing artists. From my first conversation with Geiger up to the time you’re reading this, the focus has always been on partnering together.


“If you bought the best restaurants, would you fire the chef and the maître d' and change the menu and the name? I wouldn’t. I’d protect the shit out of them,” Geiger said on our first phone call.

 

Over a series of months, we worked on a deal that partnered all three venues, Tower Theatre, Ponyboy and the new Beer City Music Hall with SaveLive. We eliminated substantial debt from Tower’s startup phase, kept our team intact, and will ensure that live music will continue to flow into OKC. We retain our independence and get the benefit of having trusted experts in booking, food and beverage, marketing, and accounting to help us navigate and grow through what we hope is the tail end of a gnarly 24 months in the live music business.

 

On the booking side, I now have partners in LA, New York City and Nashville who are identifying talent and submitting offers for OKC. Strategic partnerships with Granada Theater in Dallas and Patchwork Presents have been significant, and with SaveLive, we are leveling up again.

 

“Working with Marc Geiger is a stamp of approval, letting the industry know that OKC is ready for the next level,” Booker said.


More and better shows are coming to OKC and our stages are ready for the increased attention. Tower Theatre and Ponyboy will continue to add more shows to the calendar, and the quality of bookings will continue to evolve.

 

SaveLive arrived at the perfect time to help us open Beer City Music Hall. The uncertainty of the last two years only makes this moment sweeter. Eli Young Band, Big Freedia, Pi’erre Bourne, TOKiMONSTA, Adriel Favela, Lucero, Pinegrove and more play OKC’s newest stage beginning April 2, with more acts announcing soon.

 

Will this be the roaring 20s people keep talking about? Probably not, but with the addition of Beer City Music Hall, we now have a pipeline to develop the next generation of music stars. Artists can grow from Ponyboy to Beer City to Tower Theatre, a network of stages that did not exist five years ago in OKC.

 

Five years ago, this was all a dream. The unthinkable is happening: OKC is becoming a concert town, albeit one where we talk through the whole show. One step at a time though.


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