The National’s new ownership promises bigger and better changes

by | Oct 22, 2014 | ART

A considerable amount of buzz was created in the last few last weeks when AEG Live, a Los Angeles-based entertainment group, announced it had acquired the National and the Norva.

A considerable amount of buzz was created in the last few last weeks when AEG Live, a Los Angeles-based entertainment group, announced it had acquired the National and the Norva. The multi-million dollar deal has prompted questions about each venue’s future and what changes will come about. But according to Bill Reid, who helps book shows at the National and the NorVa with Rising Tide Productions, there will be no changes as to how each venue runs its day-to-day operations.

“It’s business as usual for all of us,” Reid said. “The staff is the same, the policy, [and] the entrepreneurial perspective of things.”

AEG Live, which helps run big-name music festivals such as Coachella, promotes tours for artists ranging from Cher and Paul McCartney to Arctic Monkeys and Alt-J, and owns the Staples Center, will also be using the Norfolk-based Norva as its mid-Atlantic operations headquarters.

This will allow for major venues to increase their chances of booking throughout sections of the east coast, according to Reid.

“It allows us to be able to book bands not only in the smaller points like the Norva and the National, but in the arenas and theaters, too We’re gonna be viable at every level, and that only enhances what we do at the NorVa and the National,” Reid said. “We’ll certainly have more buying power and knowledge.”

Reid also said that there will be an increases of “between fifteen and twenty percent” in the number of shows booked at both venues, with hopes of pulling in bigger artists. Not only does AEG have a bigger catolog it can pull from, but it also has a wider knowledge base with which to work, something for which Reid is grateful.

“They have an incredible relationship with artists on a world-wide basis, whereas we do not,” he said. “It just opens the door to endless possibilities.”

But these possibilities don’t equal complete control as to who comes through Richmond and Norfolk. If anything, AEG will give Rising Tide Productions and other booking and promoting agencies the information about new up-and-coming bands they might not otherwise have access to before.

In other words, you’re more likely to see that great indie band you found online roll into town in the future than Justin Bieber. “They just want to give us the tools to do it bigger and better,” said Reid. “And that’s fine. Nothing in that aspect is going to change.”

In addition to this, the National is working to up its ante food-wise. They are working together with Coda, formerly the home of Gibson’s Grill on 700 E Broad Street, to create an environment where food and music coincide.

The restaurant is open every day of the week and serves primarily American food. Reid said the relationship between the two has been fantastic thus far, and envisions Coda as a place where fans and artists alike can hang out after the show and enjoy great food. “They’re turning the downstairs into a speakeasy,” Reid said of the restaurant. “Which it was in the 20’s when the National was open [originally].”

Reid also said that the National itself will be providing more food and upgrading its V.I.P. Member Sponsorship. Combining these things with more music, he sees a bright future for the venue and the bands that will appeal to concertgoers in Richmond. “We’re just gonna be more and more aggressive,” he said. “We’re all about creating headliners. Every band is a local band somewhere.”

And for those who still have their share of doubts about AEG Live acquiring the National and the Norva, Reid said there are few strangers to him in the company. “They’re relatively small,” Reid said. “I know many of the people who’ve worked there for years. For us, it just means that we’re able to go out and do what we want to do.”

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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