Marc Geiger and SaveLive sued by US venue
Marc Geiger and his company SaveLive are being sued by the owners of a US venue The Alibi for breach of contract, interference and fraud, according to Billboard.
The Alibi owners Melanie Tusquellas and Elizabeth Garo said in a lawsuit filed on 25 May that their 200-capacity venue and restaurant in Palm Springs was struggling after the Covid-19 pandemic forced its temporary closure in 2020.
Worried about losing their investment, they began discussions with Geiger late that year about a possible plan to save the venue.
Geiger, along with his business partner and former WME principal John Fogelman, had launched a “war chest” to “bailout” struggling US music venues.
His proposal for the venture, named SaveLive, was to buy at least 51% of the equity in those clubs and help them expand into regional forces once the live sector returns to full strength.
In April 2022, the company completed its first round of financing, raising US$135 million, and signed its first round of venue partners – which included The Alibi.
“Being able to partner with SaveLive is a dream come true,” Garo said in an April 2022 press release announcing the partnership between The Alibi and SaveLive. “Tusquellas and I can stay true to our roots knowing we have their full support,” Garo continued, adding, “It doesn’t hurt that we’ve known some of the people at SaveLive for years — we all came up through the business together.”
Garo is an LA talent buyer who had booked Spaceland, The Echo and The Echoplex and co-founded the Echo Park Rising Festival, while Tusquellas is a co-owner of the historic Edendale Grill & Bar and El Chavo Restaurant in Silverlake, Los Angeles.
“SaveLive responded with personal threats and intimidation,” ultimately…forcing The Alibi to close again
The pair’s attorney Miles Feldman, in the complaint, said that “SaveLive was committed to maintaining the character of the businesses with such existing owners continuing to have control of the operations.
“Based on Geiger’s misrepresentations,” the complaint reads, Garo and Tusquellas sold a 51% ownership interest in The Alibi to a holding company controlled by SaveLive and contributed their remaining 49% interest to a second holding company controlled by SaveLive. Under the deal, Garo and Tusquellas would retain the liquor license for The Alibi through a business entity called 369 Palm Inc, which entered into an agreement with Geiger’s group to serve as The Alibi’s concessionaire.
“Shortly after 369 Palm sold a majority interest in The Alibi, Save Live’s true intentions became crystal clear,” Feldman wrote in the civil complaint. SaveLive officials allegedly “insisted that its accountant be responsible for keeping the financial books and records for the concessions business,” despite an agreement that the concessions business “would be run separately from SaveLive’s operation and booking of The Alibi.”
When met with objections, “SaveLive responded with personal threats and intimidation,” ultimately stifling “the resurgence of The Alibi, forcing it to close again in July 2022 less than four months after its grand re-opening,” the complaint reads.
After allegedly ignoring the concessionaire agreement and assuming control over food and beverage profits, SaveLive allegedly tried to force the owners to sell their liquor license to SaveLive for only a fraction of its fair market value.
When that failed, SaveLive officials allegedly used “repeated threats and intimidation” to try and force the women to transfer their liquor license to DLS Events, a concessionaire and bar service company that services Live Nation clients like the Palladium and the Wiltern in Los Angeles, along with 16 other venues under exclusive contract.
When Garo and Tusquellas refused, SaveLive shut down The Alibi and unsuccessfully attempted to trigger an option in the concession agreement forcing the sale of the liquor license. The shutdown of the venue, however, rendered the liquor license inactive, causing it to be surrendered to the California Alcoholic Beverage Control agency.
According to California law, the complaint claims, the liquor license for The Alibi “must be reactivated within one year; otherwise, the liquor license will be revoked, which would destroy the value of one of 369 Palm’s most valuable and prized assets.”
Garo and Tusquellas are suing SaveLive and Geiger for breach of contract, interference and fraud. They are asking for punitive damages against SaveLive, a cancellation of the concession agreement and a preliminary injunction forcing SaveLive to reopen The Alibi.
IQ has approached Geiger for comment.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.