Jack Orbin is a legendary concert promoter and former owner of (now-closed) Stone City Attractions.
This piece ws originally published in the San Antonio Report. The photo is by Al Rendon, the words are by Jack Orbin.
San Antonio has always been a rock haven. People like the rock here. Thank goodness there was not only us, but a radio station – KMAC/KISS – Joe Anthony and Lou Roney were playing up-and-coming music, so San Antonio got turned on to a lot of music that a lot of other cities didn’t get to hear until later. We became a breeding ground for bands like Judas Priest and Rush. San Antonio really loved the driving rock, it always built the quickest. It has always been different and on the cutting edge of music.
It’s time for me as a promoter to pass the baton to some young indies. Young promoters like Erica Vigilante here in San Antonio are building clientele and venues, they’re going to keep energy flowing through new young bands and feed the next generation of audiences the music they want to hear. Today, concert firms have been rolled up into a few large corporations, most of the regional promoters, the independents, have all been consumed by the corporations. Live Nation/Ticketmaster has become the dominant force. The concert business has become more about business than music.
Like we did in 1972; there was a big conglomerate called Concerts West that did all the big acts – we picked up regional bands, lesser-known bands and started them in clubs and stayed with them as they built. You could have gone to Cardi’s in those days to see U2 for $2.99 – Al, you have a picture of that concert. We started them in clubs, then ballrooms, then theaters, then auditoriums then arenas and stadiums. We had a personal relationship with the bands back then. Today, when a band gets big enough, they declare free agency and a big conglomerate will come in and pay big bucks for their entire tour.
I’m hoping the young, independent promoters will come in and do what we did – pick up the bands that are up-and-coming, book shows, build their audiences. It’s almost the same environment, the same challenges.