Kessler Theater Artistic Director Jeffrey Liles Accuses Granada Theater of Stealing Shows
Earlier this week, the Granada Theater announced a new show coming to its room on Saturday, October 8. The show will feature touring headliners Portugal. The Man, plus an opening set from Dallas locals Air Review.
Yesterday afternoon, Kessler Theater artistic director Jeffrey Liles took to Facebook to voice his frustration about the new Granada show announcement, laying down some hefty accusations in the process.
"Apparently, the Granada has begun the practice of approaching artists who are already confirmed at The Kessler to ditch their gigs here and come play there on the same night instead," Liles wrote in a Facebook post shared with his nearly 5,000 Facebook friends. "That's just pathetic, desperate and sad."
Perhaps, but those are some serious, incendiary claims. Not surprisingly, Liles' accusatory note drew plenty of attention -- over 80 comments from concerned members of his social network (including sometime Kessler performers), and among them a few more darts from Liles.
The Kessler Theater's Jeff Liles
Some of Liles' further comments on the matter:
"...this wasn't at all about money; it was about appearing on the under bill of a show that [is] sure to sell out at The Granada. (I can certainly appreciate the band's desire to want to appear on that show; it's kinda like someone walking up to you and saying, 'Here, want this winning lottery ticket?') The issue is with The Granada asking them in the first place. Surely they heard our radio spots on KXT or saw the band already on our schedule that night. It's kinda baffling to me. I just can't imagine booking a big headliner like that, and then thinking to myself, 'Well, I'd really like _____ to open this show, but they're playing at The Granada that night. Maybe I'll just call 'em and ask them to play here instead.' You just don't do that shit."
"I trust local artists to honor their commitments, and we don't issue paperwork for their shows. We've certainly never had this problem before."
"...when venues compete for shows there is a simple protocol; once it's booked and on sale, it's a done deal. We didn't lose a show, this was an opening act. The issues here are process and principle. Far creepier is this dangerous precedent of carpet bagging artists, confusing the public, and wasting the time, energy and money of the people actually producing and promoting the shows. The Granada doesn't even need this band on that night; the headliner will sell the place out on their own. This was a gesture, a shot across the bow on their part. People deserve to know this information."
Interestingly, multiple attempts to reach Liles for direct comment have proven unsuccessful.
Granada Theater owner Mike Schoder, however, briefly commented on Liles' accusations.
"Are you kidding?" Schoder asked, asserting that the Granada checks published show schedules to see if a band's booked elsewhere before approaching them; Schoder says that same method was applied in booking Air Review to the Portugal. The Man show, and that their web site never mentioned any other October 8 gig.
"It's the band," Schoder says. "You don't blame the venue for this."
On Wednesday morning, Air Review posted the following note to their Facebook page announcing their removal from the Kessler bill
"Hey DFWers - we're no longer playing with the Orbans and Analog Rebellion at Kessler Theater on October 8th. It's still going to be an amazing show but another opportunity came up that we couldn't refuse."
That opportunity, we now know, was at the Granada. Air Review frontman Douglas Hale and bassist Jeff Taylor agree with Schoder's opinion on where the blame for Liles' accusations lie.
"It was completely our decision," Taylor says.
"We will take the responsibility for it," Hale adds.
But the band does want to clear something up: "We were very straightforward [with the Granada] about the fact that we were indeed already booked," Hale says. "We love the Kessler. We know everybody is mad at us."
There is an explanation, they say. For starters, The Orbans first approached Air Review about the Kessler show, and Air Review believed it was going to be billed as a co-headlining show; when the Kessler began promoting it, it did so with Air Review as the first band playing on the three-band bill. Second, Air Review claims there's a reason the Granada may not have originally noticed the Kessler show: Though the band had promoted the show at The Kessler on their Facebook page, it was not posted to their main website because the group is currently going through a transition with the people who run that site for them.
"We'd assumed we would be main support," Hale says. "When we saw that we weren't, we emailed Cliff [Wright] from The Orbans and expressed a little frustration -- but we didn't bail. Then, the Portugal. The Man show came about and, well, it sounded like a much better opportunity for us. When we told Liles, we could tell he was pissed. But he was pretty cordial about it."
"He emailed us back and was like, 'No worries,'" Taylor adds. "Then, when he found out it was at the Granada, he wrote us back again. There were a lot of 'fucks' in that email."
Nonetheless, as Liles notes, there weren't contracts technically forcing the band to commit to the Kessler show.
One Facebook user, Antoinette Gonzales, took to Air Review's Facebook page yesterday to frustratingly respond to the band's notice that they would no longer be playing the Kessler show.
"I'm confused as to why you would accept a gig at The Granada, when you had already made a commitment at The Kessler," Gonzales wrote. "It's like dumping your steady date because the head cheerleader asked you out."
(Bowling for Soup was right.)
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