Joshua Tehee

At close to 90 years old, this downtown theater is still a great place to rock

Fans wait to pick up their will call tickets outside Warnors Theatre on the first night of the Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Young and Crazy Horse last performed together in 2014.
Fans wait to pick up their will call tickets outside Warnors Theatre on the first night of the Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Young and Crazy Horse last performed together in 2014. The Fresno Bee

In October, the Warnors Theatre will celebrate its 90th anniversary.

As a reminder that the downtown Fresno icon is also a viable music venue, and a damn cool place to see a rock show, New Rock 104.1 hosts its Summer Roundup concert on Sunday.

Blue October artist pic - MGMT APPROVED.jpg
Rock band Blue October will perform June 17 at Warnors Theatre in downtown Fresno as part of New Rock 104.1's Summer Roundup. SUBMITTED

The concert features the Texas dance-rock band Blue October (hits include 2006's "Hate Me") along with Los Angeles ska-rockers The Interrupters and the Fresno rock duo Cloudship. Tickets are $20.

"The goal is to pack the place at a reasonable price and establish Warnors again for younger-leaning alt rock acts," says Jason Squires, the director of programming and marketing at New Rock.

There could be a follow-up concert from the radio station this winter, which in turn could become a bi-annual series, Squires says. After all, there are any number of up-and-coming bands in need of pick-up dates between major-market radio festivals.

The theater would welcome it, says Victor Felan, who took over as the Warnors executive director in February and has seen a bump in publicity — if not a full-on renaissance.

"We've got to credit a lot of it to Neil," Felan says.

That would be the legendary Neil Young, who did a three-night stint at the theater last month. After a four-year hiatus, this was the singer's official reunion with his band Crazy Horse, so there was no shortage of national attention.

The first night was reviewed by Rolling Stone.

Fans gather to pick up their tickets on the first of three concerts by rocker Neil Young and the band Crazy Horse at the Warnors Theatre in Fresno for three nights on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Young hasn't performed with Crazy Horse in four years.

It was a good get for the theater, which had been scouted by the promotion company Live Nation just weeks before the first show.

The Warnor's was a perfect fit. Young was looking for a historic venue; something outside of the major market cities. He didn't want to play north of Sacramento or south of Bakersfield and the turnaround on the whole thing needed to be quick.

Live Nation was impressed by the venue and the turnout, and is already looking to bring in other acts, Felan says.

Amanda Miguel and Diego Verdaguer's Siempre Juntos US tour stops at the theater Oct. 11.

Comedian Chris D'Elia's Follow The Leader tour is at the Warnors Dec. 14.

Tickets to both are one sale now.

The theater already has relationships with promoters looking to bring in Christian and Latin acts. Crowder played Warnors in April on his American Prodigal tour and the Latin oop duo Pandora was there June 1.

In Felan's dream world, the theater would become the kind of place that could land an killer acoustic show from the likes of Bruce Springsteen. Felan will settle with the theater booked every weekend, as part of a thriving entertainment district.

That would include the entire Warnors Theatre complex. Already the complex's other venue, Frank's Place, has reopened on Friday nights, in partnership with the radio station Q97.

"My goal," Felan says, "is to become the hub for entertainment on Fulton Street."

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

New Rock Summer Roundup

With Blue October, the Interrupters and Cloudship

Meanwhile …

Six other noteworthy events happening this week:

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