Shirley Manson of Garbage on stage at Portland’s Roseland Theater. (Courtesy Roseland Theater)
Jeff Trisler has been programming the Pacific Northwest for the last 30 years; he’s been doing it for Live Nation shows for the last 11 years. VenuesNow spoke with the veteran promoter about what’s driving the market.
What makes the Pacific Northwest unique?
Venues aren’t all that far apart, even from state to state. Seattle is in one direction, Bend (Oregon) in another, are both three-hour drives from Portland. Vancouver, Wash., and Vancouver, B.C., are one-hour drives from Seattle. Tacoma and Olympia are all a stone’s throw from one another. That means bands can play one or the other and skip over a whole state if they only have room for one or two Pacific Northwest slots available. A lot of shows sell out here because fans will travel from one state to another to see the band if the band isn’t coming to their city.
The Pacific Northwest has a lot of festivals. Why is the ground so fertile there?
Our summer months are glorious, and after being trapped inside or on rainy, icy roads, the people want to get out. Amphitheaters, like our Gorge Amphitheatre, do extremely well here during the spring and summer months because of this phenomenon.
Which genres work best in the Pacific Northwest?
Rock, country and hip-hop all do well here. We’re developing a market for electronic dance music. And classical music always seems to find an audience here.
What’s unique about programming the region?
When you look on the map, I like to say, “We’re on the road to nowhere.” That means we must have a strong market to attract acts to come here. Acts need to play the right room to make it work.
Does the infamous Pacific Northwest weather play a part?
Absolutely. The weather plays a huge part when programming events. It often rains or snows for around 150 days a year. We really come alive in the spring and summer.
Which factors affected the region this year?
Definitely KeyArena closing for 2 ½ years for renovations is already having a huge impact on the region. Things are getting shook up. Shows that would have played there are going to play in other venues, and you never know what will happen. And then when KeyArena does open back up, the landscape will shift again because they are adding in a lot more seats and competing with venues they didn’t vie with before.
Why is the region so great for live entertainment?
Seattle and Portland are two of the fast-growing markets in the country. There’s a lot of corporate strength here, like Amazon and Microsoft, and the kind of person who works at a tech company is a prime live-event customer.
Where do you see the region in five years?
The region just keeps spreading out and people are pouring in. It’s not projected to slow down. We get a lot of people frustrated with bigger cities like Los Angeles or New York City moving here and they’re bringing their love of live entertainment with them. Live Nation and other companies are investing here, and they would not be if they didn’t think they’d do really well here.