Newly-Formed Indie Promoter Restless Presents Launching With L.A.’s Substance 2022 Festival

Veteran Los Angeles concert promoters and talent buyers Brian Tarney and Liz Garo have joined forces to form Restless Presents, an indie promotion company that’s producing the upcoming Substance 2022 festival.

Previously produced by Tarney’s ticketing and marketing company Restless Nights and Live Nation, the annual celebration of dark rock, industrial, electronic post-punk will feature one of its strongest lineups to date, with performers including Jesus And Mary ChainThe ChameleonsClock DVACabaret Voltaire co-founder Steven Mallinder, electro-royalty ensemble Miss Kittin And The Hacker, Boy Harsher, Light Asylum, Youth Code, SEXTILE and Kontravoid. The festival is slated for Oct. 21 and 22 at the Los Angeles Theater.

Tarney and Garo have also launched a New York event called Flesh & Steel — a multi-venue, multi-date celebration taking place Dec. 1-3 and featuring  Boy Harsher, A Split-Second, Psyche, Phase Fatale and more. Restless enlisted NYC artists David Castillo of Brooklyn venue Saint Vitus and DJ, promoter and journalist Andi Harriman of Synthicide to serve as creative directors for the New York event.

Tarney and Garo launched Restless Presents during the pandemic and have since booked shows for ADULT, Lingua Ignota, SEXTILE and Thee Sacred Souls. Substance is the company’s first festival, but both have produced the festival brand from its inception, going back to the launch of the Cloak and Dagger series for She Wants Revenge.

“I think one of the best things about these events is the broad, eclectic audience,” says Garo, who served as the lead talent buyer for Spaceland Presents for more than 20 years, booking the Echo and Regent Theater and concert series at the Getty Center, LA’s Natural History Museum and the Santa Monica Pier. (Spaceland was bought by Live Nation in 2019). Garo also co-founded and managed the long running Echo Park Rising series.

“There is such a broad age range at Substance. You’re definitely getting an older crowd that knows the classics but a young, healthy scene too that that’s pretty vibrant,” Garo adds. “People can come in and be who they want to be. It’s a very tight scene.”

The Los Angeles Theater in downtown LA’s Theater District was chosen as host venue because of its flexibility and eclectic layout, says Tarney, who hosted Substance at the venue in 2019 with headliner Gary Numan.

“It’s a blank slate and we built the whole thing from scratch. It’s got so many little weird rooms and nooks and crannies. We’re working really hard to activate all of them with buildouts including a marketplace and a record store,” says Tarney, a former booker at Spaceland and the creator of Restless Nites, an L.A. marketing agency and ticketing platform for independent promoters and venues. Tarney adds that Restless Presents was born from a need for more independent promoters in the live music industry and says his hope is to work closely with established and emerging acts to create unusual and forward-thinking live events.

“I think a lot of people are fed up with going to a small theater or small show and paying Ticketmaster fees or getting priced gouged on drinks when they’re there,” Tarney says. “People are looking for more than just big festivals, and many have trickled their way into some of the smaller venues. “That’s why we’re always looking for unique spaces. This is something that Liz is awesome at. She’s always finding cool, unique venues and places where we can come in and have more input.”

Tarney notes that Restless Presents has several new festival genre concepts in the works for 2023, including a roots roadhouse event and neo soul festival.

“Substance is the focal point this year, but there’s gonna be a lot more events and much more diverse sounds in the future,” he says.

Dave Brooks