Johnny Quiroz says no promoter in Fresno has booked more shows in the last decade than Love the Captive.
It's hyperbole, but I let it slide because Quiroz has been a consistent part of the scene since he started promoting as Love the Captive in 2005. He's brought in a number of on-the-rise acts to local clubs.
Quiroz is looking to expand Love the Captive's reach. He recently began booking shows for Peeve's Public House, and he is working with the Warnors Center for the Performing Arts (which includes Warnors Theatre, Frank's Place and the Star Palace) in a position that comes with a paycheck and an upstairs office with a view of downtown. In September, he will open the LTC Shop, a 500-square-foot boutique in the complex that will feature local artists and designers, with a heavy focus on local records, CDs and T-shirts.
The job gives Quiroz the opportunity to book shows at the theater's various venues. For instance, the synth-pop band Future Islands plays Tuesday night at Star Palace. The band is riding a wave of popularity after standout sets at the Coachella and on Letterman.
By year's end, Quiroz wants to book at least one show in the theater proper. He'd like to pull in an artist like Mos Def or the rock band Phoenix. Or, Little Dragon, which he brought to town in 2009.
"Something that really shocks the scene," he says.
This isn't Love The Captive's first partnership with the complex. In 2010, Quiroz did a series of summer shows at Frank's Place.
"We thought what we were doing in the Tower District would translate down here," Quiroz says. "It didn't."
There were times he lost $500 or more on a single show. Even artists like Mayer Hawthorne, who came with his share of hype, barely broke even on ticket sales.
"That made me see business in a different way," he says.
A lot has changed in four years, both in the mural district and within the Warnors complex itself. The nonprofit organization that operates the theater ended the 2013 fiscal year in the black — the first time anyone can remember the nonprofit making money since it took over.
Each of its venues now has a working sound system. There is a new management team and a social media manager.
The 2,000-plus seat Warnors Theatre is a venue capable of competing with places like Oakland's Fox Theater. Operating at full capacity, it would provide a needed component in the city's live music landscape — a replacement for the Wilson Theater, which was a well-used venue in the 1990s.
Quiroz hopes his experience — and connections — can make that happen.
The key will be the kids, he says.
By kids, he means the teens and 20-somethings that came up in the generation behind him. He's pulled together a group of them for the new Love The Captive team. They'll serve as paid interns for the promotion side and work in the retail shop. Eventually, they'll book and promote their own shows under the Love The Captive moniker, Quiroz says: "Kids get excited. They tell the world. Fresno has a ton of rad, talented kids."