Manny Theiner Will Screw Your Band Over

I wrote this article years ago. Manny Theiner was fired from Pittsburgh City Paper for his unethical practices.  Bands still bond with me over their “Manny Story” and they didn’t get paid.

Manny Theiner

tl;dr: Manny Theiner abuses his position at Pittsburgh’s City Paper. He will screw over your band.

Manny Theiner is a contributing writer for Pittsburgh City Paper and local show promoter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also runs Garfield Artworks and has made a name for himself on the national circuit for screwing over bands.

When Manny launched a series of personal attacks against me, he boasted that his wrongdoings had no citable examples. It was then I knew I had to blow the whistle.

First, Manny Theiner’s Private Partnerships

In 2007, it became blatantly clear that Manny Theiner and Jim Semonik had a ‘private partnership’.  They would bill the shows as Distortion Productions, and Manny would write them up in the Pittsburgh City Paper. In exchange Manny would be a ‘silent partner’.

After the Front Line Assembly [link] show at Mr. Smalls, Jim Semonik told me the show had lost money, but it had not ‘affected his partnership with Manny’.  We were decent friends until I booked a few shows in Pittsburgh.  Afterward Manny Theiner told me in a phone call, “You can get under me or I’ll watch you burn.” Threats from him are not uncommon. [link]

Putting another production company name allows Manny Theiner to write about it. He’s currently working with Grey Area Productions at The Rex Theater, and has had a long-standing relationship with the 31st Street Pub.  He often inserts articles about his own shows at other venues.

Second: Manny Theiner’s abuses his Position at Pittsburgh City Paper

Working with Manny Theiner offers certain ‘perks’. His writing frequently features performers he works with.  These reviews and mentions are nothing more than “advertorials”. Furthermore, he uses articles as ‘favors’ to entice touring bands to work with him the next time they come to Pittsburgh. (review this)

“It sucks we had to play his show to get into City Paper, but I guess that’s the way it is.”
-Anonymous Band

This is good ol’ boy mentality at it’s best.  No one does anything because they don’t wants to risk their chance at being ‘in’ with the Pittsburgh City Paper.  Once this article was published, Pittsburgh City Paper’s staff uniformly removed me from their social media networks. Only proving the point.

Graph 1: Articles in Music Section by Author

I publicly confronted Pittsburgh City Paper about his ‘Private Partnerships’ in December 2009 [link]. We lightly spoke that night at the Best of ’09 party. [link]. They assured me he was just a ‘contributor’ and would look into it. Afterward, I dropped the issue and even attended their ’10 Music Guide Party. [link]

Graph 2: Author Distribution in Pittsburgh City Paper Music Section

As we can see above, Manny Theiner produces 27.45% of Pittsburgh’s City Paper music section. His statistics are only rivaled by Aaron Jentzen.

Graph 3: Articles By Manny, As a Contributor, or for Garfield Artworks

Contributor? When you add it up, Manny Theiner controls about 1/3 of the Pittsburgh City Paper music content at 34.84% (+/- 3.3% see notes). For all intensive purposes, Manny full time staff, which makes his abuse more grievous.

Graph 4: Mr. Smalls & Andy Warhol Museum exclude due to search errors.

Pittsburgh City Paper’s internal search engine can produce junk results. In this case I did Mr. Smalls and Andy Warhol Museum because of them. Cross referencing them with Google results make me feel confident the remaining statistics are solid.

Graph 5Mr. Smalls & Andy Warhol Museum exclude due to search errors.

There are so many ways you can interpret this. I’ll highlight some points of interest.

  1. Club Cafe is the most notable of the venues according to City Paper.
  2. Manny’s Venue Garfield Artworks ranks #3.
  3. The 31st Street Pub has an interesting Music to Main Feature ratio.

NOTICE: The excel spreadsheet highlighting over 30 specific examples was offered to Pittsburgh City Paper and Post Gazette.

Third: Manny Theiner Will Screw Over Your Band.

There’s a reason Manny Theiner can’t get many veteran punk artists. He screwed them over. There are decades of artists who avoid Pittsburgh because they have been ‘Mannied’. There is a positive side effect, you can bond with almost anyone in the music industry when you ask for their Manny story.

Not paying bands isn’t Punk. It’s theft.

My Joe Jack Talcum Story: Joe Jack Talcum played at the Rex Theater in front of 7 People. At the end of the show, Manny said, “I’m going to the car to get your money.” He left, vanished, and the bands crashed at my house. [Link 1Link 2]

I have a list of bands that have claimed to have been screwed over by Manny; I’ve sent out requests for public statements. Many local bands have shied away from this not wanting to “ruin their chances” of getting into Pittsburgh City Paper.

Note: Manny gives local bands preferred treatment, since he must reuse them as show openers.

Change log 10/5/10.

  1. Article was majorly rewritten. Thank you for the feedback.
  2. “City Paper and Aaron Jentzen go out of their way to label Manny Theiner Shows.” was removed. Research brought this into question.
  3. Research confirmed previous 31st Street Pub suspicions.
  4. The Tesco Vee and the Meatmen have garnered further suspicions .
  5. On statistics. I have tried to be as precise as possible. Third parties helped with the retrieval and processing. Statistics cover “Music” category and does not cover “Blogs” or “Main Features”. The search was preformed by String, rather than “AuthorID” to provide more accurate information. On the third graph, this could mean a difference of 3.3% of Manny’s total. That would make his overall percentage 31.54% instead of 34.84%.
  6. Waiting on examples to be reviewed by third parties.

To Roboto Readers: This article isn’t about popularity. It’s about the right thing.

To Manny:  I’ve tried to be cordial. However, the next time you confront me on the street, I’m calling the police. Live your life, find happiness, and most of all, please do it away from me.

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow. Manny has put shows on for a number of my bands and never fucked them over. He is a quiet guy but he is pretty legit.

    1. LOL. Manny Theiner is anything but “legit”. He’s like the creepiest, sleaziest “business person” anyone’s ever met.

  2. I don't believe I have a Manny story, unless he was at one point with Joker Productions. Joker was another one that somehow made a living by completely fucking over bands. They'd have a battle of the bands – you'd have to sell tickets to play, of course – which would conveniently result in ties. Which would result in bands coming back, and once again selling their minimum amount of tickets. Jackasses.

      1. Yeah, it reeks of the same idea that keeps crowd-sourcing and spec work alive in the design community.

    1. Please. Manny doesn’t know how to write. He just obsessively pretends to be an expert on whatever he’s currently discussing. It’s actually sort of sad. It’s also quite ironic that a person as ignorant and judgmental as Manny would try to preach to anyone about anything. He’s intolerable.

  3. the only real complaint you can have with manny is that he needs to paint his gallery space before hanging art on the walls.

  4. Manny tried to stop my band from playing luciannos (spelling?) By telling the owner we did covers and sounded like Pearl Jam. He never heard us or saw us perform.

    Joker productions was horrible!! They were waiting on the side of the stage to get their money when we walked off!

  5. Fuckig finally this little pip squeak gets taken to task for his YEARS of sleazy shit. Good work man!!

  6. A “screwing bands”, and my band example is… going on tour and making money in many cities with a turnout of a hundred to 200… then playing the Pitts to 300 people that paid $10 to see a show where we are supporting very down to earth friends of ours (headliner) that don’t have a tall fee to pay, and then the promoter in question giving us $60. Thank you for the show. We will never be back. Fuck that dude.

  7. Manny – racist chiseling show promoter. uses the N-word with regularity when in the company of those who don’t want to interact with him. has most likely pulled a boxcutter on someone you know if they weren’t white. called the City officials on numerous gigs promoted by others in order to “take his ball and go home” when unable to book acts he has a “history with”

  8. Manny was a DJ at WRCT in the late 80’s. Even after he left Carnegie Mellon and the college radio station there, he’d still come in and “borrow” stacks of records as though the station library was his personal collection. Often the records didn’t come back, and eventually the station manager had to lock the door to the record library and keep the key in the on-air booth. Everyone was put on notice that Manny Theiner was not to be permitted in the station, and if he entered anyway, to call campus security. Sounds like he’s still the same lying scumbag today that he was 25 years ago!

  9. Manny Theiner sucks and makes the music/art scene in Pittsburgh a much more negative place than is necessary. So many people have awful Manny stories. The guy is a selfish, dishonest creep. He’s got to miserable too, being that he is himeslf.

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