If you’ve ever been to a concert in Columbus, there’s a good chance that it was at a PromoWest venue.
The entertainment company hit its 30th anniversary this year, and is responsible for booking acts in the Columbus area at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, A&R Music Bar, The Basement and Newport Music Hall as well as Stage AE in Pittsburgh — all venues that PromoWest also owns.
Marissa Luther — who has held the position of marketing director at PromoWest for the past four years — said it’s rare for an entertainment company to own so many venues, especially including one as distinct as the LC.
Equipped with both indoor and outdoor concert capabilities, the LC Pavilion is the first venue of its kind in America, according to PromoWest’s website. It is equipped with a reversible stage for year-round concert experiences. During the warm months, the LC’s outdoor venue accommodates 5,200 people, and in the brisk months, the LC indoors can hold 2,200 people. Its versatility and flexibility were enough to earn it the 24th spot on the Billboard magazine’s list of the 25 hottest small venue music clubs in 2013.
“You get to see bands in a setting you normally wouldn’t,” Luther said, “and you get to see them before they make it or right on the cusp of making it.”
While this is true in some cases, the LC Pavilion has also hosted established names in the industry, such as Foster the People, which performed back in September, and Santana, who headlined at the PromoWest Productions 30th Anniversary Concert this past June.
PromoWest faces significant competition on a national level, but Luther said the company has a pretty good hold on the market in Columbus.
The younger demographic — primarily Ohio State students — are typically the early adopters of music, so they are likely to buy tickets to see up-and-coming artists, Ramhoff said.
“The music scene in Columbus is huge — local musicians are alive and well,” Megan Ramhoff, PromoWest’s promotions manager, said. “There are so many times when I make a point to get to a show early to see an opener. That makes a great local band.”
Luther said she is proud to work here in the city.
“The bands want to play here. We have a lot of the same bands come here year after year because they love our crowd,” Luther explained.
Though many have positive experiences with PromoWest, the company has seen controversy.
In 2009, The Columbus Dispatch reported that the LC Pavilion canceled a concert because of gay protesters before a performance by reggae singer Buju Banton. This conflict was centered around one of Banton’s songs that suggests shooting and burning gays.
Amy Cooper — a marketing director at PromoWest — confirmed to the Dispatch that the show was canceled but declined to elaborate. She said Promowest did not directly book the Banton show but instead rented out the LC to an outside agency that scheduled the concert.
Despite such a controversy, the LC — as well as the other four venues owned by PromoWest — provides a desirable concert environment, Luther said.
Chaney Pavelka is a third-year in medical dietetics who has taken in several concerts at the LC Pavilion indoors, including Walk the Moon, Ed Sheeran and fun.
“I like how there are so many different levels. It makes it less crowded,” Chaney said.
Mimi Rowe, a second-year pre-nursing major, went to a high school that hosted her junior and senior proms at the LC Pavilion indoors. Rowe saw MGMT perform on the indoor stage last year, though she said she prefers the outdoor stage.
“I like how there is a mosh pit and also lawn availability,” Rowe said.
Alex Sutton, a second-year in strategic communication, has seen Twenty One Pilots and Life in Color at the LC.
“It adheres to all types of music and conditions. It’s sweet,” Sutton said.
Daniel Arrasmith, an OSU alumnus and a former general manager of A&R Bar and The Basement, is optimistic about the music industry in Columbus in general, calling it “exploding.”
“The people of Columbus are very open-minded and actively searching for that ‘new sound,’” Arrasmith said.
Ramhoff shares a similar opinion of Columbus.
“Our city has an eclectic taste — you never know what genre will come through our venues, all thanks to Columbus loving it all,” she said.
Arrasmith, who was involved with PromoWest and their venues from May 2006 to June 2013, described his experience as “amazing.”
“Every day I learned new things, and I worked with some of the most amazing people in the industry. When I tell people that, they typically assume I am referring the artists/musicians when, in fact, I am referring to my colleagues at Promowest,” he said.