Ryan Vangel’s trajectory toward becoming the Vice President of Talent Booking for Live Nation New England has had some bumps. When he attended Babson College in Boston wielding a guitar and long hair, the business school wasn’t sure what to do with his desire to work in music.
“I hit up career services in college and they asked what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to go into the music business. They were like ‘how do you do that?’ They were the people who were supposed to tell me how to do that and it wasn’t even on their radar,” Vangel told Amplify. “A friend of mine had done a semester abroad and I was looking through the book and I noticed in London they had a music business internship. I decided I was going to go try that.”
When he got to London, Vangel went out for a position at Primary Talent.
“I walk in and the guy says ‘Just so you know, we only hire women.’ So we just talked about music and stuff for a half hour or forty-five minutes,” Vangel said. “He felt bad or something so he pulled some strings and I met with Metropolis Music.”
Vangel arrived for an interview with Metropolis Music dressed in a suit jacket and the people in charge, decked out in sleeve tattoos, had a good laugh, but still gave him a position. He spent the summer attending shows, dropping off tickets, and having the time of his life. He was hooked on the music industry and returned to New England in search of a new position.
“I was cold calling people. I would ask for the biggest name there because that was all I knew, you’d maybe get a voicemail and you’d never get a call back,” Vangel said. “One time I was calling Festival Productions and I said is George Wein there. They must have by accident transferred me. I gave him my spiel at eight million miles per hour.”
Vangel added “He told me to come to his house on Saturday at 1pm. I went over to his house and he said ‘I don’t have anything for you.’ We just talked music for a while and then he said, ‘Alright, if you can get yourself to Newport and put yourself up we’ll find a spot for you to work the summer and see how it goes.'”
After a successful summer in Newport, the folks at Festival Productions offered Vangel a full-time position at their offices in New York.
“I come in Monday and they say ‘we had a show this weekend and we lost the exact amount of your salary, so we’re going to let you go.’ So I got fired on my first official day,” Vangel said.
Not one to be defeated, Vangel went back to the beginning and became a runner and worked for Concerted Efforts before joining Don Law Company. In 1998, Don Law Company was sold to SFX which was then purchased by Clear Channel whose concert arm spun off into Live Nation. Vangel is now the talent buyer for Blue Hills Bank Pavilion and select shows at House of Blues Boston, Orpheum Theatre, Fenway Park, and other Boston area venues. We caught up with Vangel to learn about five shows that helped shape his career in the industry.
Van Halen at Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut
March 29, 1984
This was my first concert ever. I was 11 years old at the time. My parents dropped me and my slightly older brother off at the Civic Center. They let us go to the show by ourselves. I don’t really remember much about that specific night, but I do remember going to the Live Without a Net (live concert film) taping a few years later in New Haven, Connecticut. This was when I started to play guitar and was hooked.
Radiohead at Tweeter Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts
Aug. 13, 2003
My good friend and I had met for a quick bite after work on what was then a beautiful sunny summer day and did a little pre-gaming before heading to the show. As we headed towards the venue on the highway, the sky turned green and dark and a thunder and lightning storm was getting more and more intense. The storm seemed focused right over where the venue was, so as we got closer it was getting worse and worse. Then a car from the other side of the highway spun out on the grass median and flipped over right next to us and we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. We pulled off to help, but others were luckily quicker to get them out safely. When we got back into traffic the car ahead of us smashed into the car ahead of them. The show matched the intensity of the weather and afterwards no one was in a rush to leave the venue!
Beastie Boys at the Opera House and Bank of America Pavilion in Boston
Aug. 5-6, 2007
They did a ‘jazz’ show and more of a hits show over these two nights and what stood out was how everyone walking around the venues had the biggest grins I had ever seen at a show. They were high-fiving each other because they felt so lucky to be at the show. Just two incredible nights of music and I wish the world got to have more of these guys. They truly were incredible and are deeply missed.
Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field in Chicago
July 19, 2013
This was my first time at Wrigley Field in Chicago and this show had the two-plus hour rain delay. It was incredible to see this band just give their all to their fans until 2am in the morning. The energy even before the show was just electric.
Foo Fighters at Fenway Park in Boston
July 18-19, 2015
These were my first stadium bookings, so it was, work-wise, a career highlight. Watching Dave Grohl going nuts shaking and kicking his good leg in the Throne made for such a memorable musical experience. They deserve all the success they have achieved for being such amazing people and musicians.