Pirate promotion

Orange County–based concert promoter John Reese doesn’t want to take on the "two behemoths"

Event organizer John Reese: “It’s always been hit or miss in San Diego. It’s hard to predict what will work here.”
  • Event organizer John Reese: “It’s always been hit or miss in San Diego. It’s hard to predict what will work here.”

A former bouncer who launched his own security company and then parlayed his concert access into a gig as the tour manager for Guns ’N Roses, penetrated San Diego’s closed-shop concert business.

“I think its super important for small guys to be able to do stuff in the music industry,” says John Reese, whose Synergy Global Entertainment (SGE) just promoted the Ye Scallywag Fest at Waterfront Park. “The industry doesn’t need just two behemoths to control everything. You still need small guys like myself or Len [Paul] from Soma to do things.”

Event organizer John Reese says Ye Scallywag almost reached its 8500-capacity at Waterfront Park last month.

Event organizer John Reese says Ye Scallywag almost reached its 8500-capacity at Waterfront Park last month.

The “two behemoths,” AEG/Goldenvoice and Live Nation, control most of the major venues in town and who plays them.

It is hard for independent promoters like Reese to bring major headliners to a local venue without their approval.

Reese admits he was able to pull in headliners Bad Religion and NOFX partly because of his personal history of working directly with the bands.

But the Orange County–based concert promoter doesn’t want to take on the big guys.

“I don’t want to rent out the Sports Arena and put on a show. I’m looking to create destination events. For Ye Scallywag we needed a special kind of venue to do a craft beer, food, and music festival. You’ve got pirate ships right across the street. I’m looking for destination events with a theme that will appeal to a certain niche. This would have never worked at Sleep Train.”

Reese, who has also promoted specialty comedy and EDM shows here, knows San Diego is not America’s finest concert market.

“San Diego is a very laid-back town with perfect weather. It’s always been hit or miss in San Diego. It’s hard to predict what will work here.”

He says his Scallywag event neared its 8500-capacity mark. Reese says he isn’t ready yet to outline his next San Diego event.

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