For over two decades, Chain Reaction has always been Anaheim’s Little All-Ages Venue That Could. As the venue that helped birth many local and touring acts in the punk, indie and hardcore scenes that would go on to become huge, the club is known for being the place musicians got their start. Today the venue is getting a new start of its own as Live Nation Entertainment on Thursday announced it has formed a strategic partnership with Chain Reaction.
Andy Serrao, the longtime owner of Chain and co-president of Fearless Records, confirmed that the venue will be getting shows and help with their festivals held at other adjacent venues but that the club will remain under his direction.
“We have a joint venture, that’s basically the best way to describe it,” Serrao says. “They let us be as autonomous as we want and if they have ideas for us, they let us in on the bigger shows.”
When they initially contacted Serrao about the partnership, Live Nation’s offer was to help Chain do what they do in terms of booking acts related to their wheelhouse of indie, punk, hardcore and metal, Serrao says.
This news comes on the heels of Live Nation buying the Observatory venues in Santa Ana and San Diego shortly after announcing a booking deal in December of 2018. Covering the gamut of venues from FivePoints Amphitheater to the House of Blues Anaheim, the Observatory and now Chain Reaction, all signs point to Live Nation’s sweeping takeover of much of the Orange County live music scene as far as ticketed events and national tours.
Prior to Live Nation partnering with Observatory in Santa Ana, Chain Reaction was one of many smaller venues that found it nearly impossible to compete with the venue’s crushing hold on touring acts as well as bigger festival audiences. “It gets frustrating, sometimes it doesn’t matter sometimes what your relationship is with a band, they’re too big to play Chain,” Serrao says. “So naturally we should align ourselves with a company that will allow us to be part of the conversation and holding onto some of these artists and keep developing in the market.”
According to Live Nation, the deal will “amplify” concerts at both Chain Reaction and Live Nation’s clubs in the market, while raising Chain Reaction’s profile at festival in the regions. Serrao helped to produce and promote the inaugural edition of Dance Gavin Dance’s Swanfest in March, which drew 7,500 fans as well as other previous OC festivals like Chain Fest and High and Low Fest.
“This is an awesome chance for Live Nation to leverage our relationships to play a role in helping seed an already robust local presence that Chain Reaction has nurtured for decades,” says Ben Weeden, COO, Live Nation Clubs & Theaters in a statement released by the company. “We are working together across all of our Orange County and San Diego venue portfolios to increase the great shows coming through our rooms, and now Chain Reaction is part of that as well.”
The financial terms and other details of the strategic partnership were not disclosed.
Chain Reaction opened its doors in 1996 and today is one of the longest-running all-ages venues in the U.S., providing a stage for rising artists in the region. Bands who have performed at the venue include Maroon 5, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, One Republic, Young the Giant, Paramore, Rise Against, and Pierce the Veil among others.
Recently, the club has also opened a new chapter in its existence by selling beer from local and national breweries which made them more attractive to bands who wanted to bring in an older crowd to their shows. Recently the club was also tapped to present a number of Goldenvoice shows including a pre-Coachella gig with The Garden.
“Before people used to be bummed that you could only bring in a young audience because we couldn’t sell beer, now that we have it, it’s an easier conversation for bigger bands, I don’t know if it’s a driving force but it helps make the venue more attractive to bigger acts.”
Despite this new partnership being uncharted territory for the local venue, Serrao hopes this move will allow the venue to survive in the long term. More on this story as it develops…