While the shows so far are more junior varsity in ranking, the announcement Tuesday of two concerts confirms that the Varsity Theater will be rocking again in 2018 with Live Nation as a partner.
The beloved Dinkytown music venue and event center -- which was bought last summer by a Hong Kong-headquartered invest firm, Gaw Capital Partners – will host smiley Danish band New Politics on Feb. 22 and an acoustic performance by emo-flavored Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon on April 13. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster, with pre-sale options already in motion.
Each concert was booked by Live Nation, the international concert industry behemoth, which regularly promoted shows at the Varsity before the music stopped at the end of 2016.
A Live Nation representative said the company entered a formal agreement with the Varsity’s new owners to present a “robust schedule” of concerts there starting in February, perhaps even sooner than the Feb. 22 concert.
Many speculated that the company might buy the former movie theater, but instead Live Nation announced plans to operate a new venue near Target Field and brand it the Fillmore, after Bill Graham's legendary venues, a name now franchised out to other cities. That venue's construction still seems a long way off, though.
The Varsity got caught up in the furor and legal entanglement surrounding former owner Jason McLean, who was accused of sexually abusing minors when he was a cast member of the Children’s Theatre in the 1980s. Last month, a Hennepin County Judge passed down a $2.5 million default judgment against McLean, who is believed to be on the lam.
Coincidentally or not, $2.5 million was also the reported price tag that Gaw and its U.S. subsidiary, Downtown Properties, paid for the Varsity last July.
“We intend to keep it as a music venue and host some amazing shows,” Dan Lee, senior vice president of investments for Gaw Capital, told the Star Tribune at the time.
The company has also signaled it will continue to host weddings and other private events at the 960-capacity venue, just as McLean's team did. A new website, VarsityTheater.com, includes information on its event rental options as well as the announcement of a Jan. 13 job fair.