D is for disappointment
The Distillery’s entertainment license suspended, causing headache for local musicians
As a local music fan, I was shocked to hear about The Distillery — also known as The D — having to cancel and turn away bands because the City of Calgary took away their rights to entertain.
Kaity Bevan, who spoke on behalf of The D, was equally as shocked when she heard the news.
“The actual suspension was a huge surprise to us,” Bevan said. “With the license review hearing last week it became obvious the city had been building a case against us for the last year.”
Considering The D re-opened their doors in a new location over a year ago, and put in effort to make sure the building wouldn’t be an issue to the residence nearby, the suspension is a slap in the face.
“When we moved into the space they (the city) had put expectations on our license, stating we couldn’t participate in pub crawls, have outside line ups, remove the outdoor speaker system and apply sound dampening measures in the room — which all had been fulfilled,” Bevan added.
According to Bevan, during the hearing for their license, the venue was informed there was no infractions found but what mattered was that there was a complaint made.
On top of no evidence of a violation, The D has been dealing with noise complaints that have nothing to do with their establishment.
“Late at night (the Peace Bridge) attracts lots of people walking home after a night of drinking in other downtown bars. They are loud, they are drunk, and they make noise,” Bevan said. “The community then calls in noise complaints then they get directed to us, and it’s then our fault. It’s very frustrating, I’d say the majority of our complaints come from this.”
“We have had noise complaints even when we were closed due to the floods in June 2013. When we brought this to the attention of the Business license Inspector, he basically said our claim was crap,” Bevan added.
On top of all the noise drama, local musicians are hurting from the venue being closed. Guitarist of Calgary’s metal band Burning Effigy, Brent Matusik, is more than upset with the sudden license suspension.
“(I’m) frustrated because we were scheduled for a gig three days after the official notification of their troubles were released,” Matusik said.
“It will affect me quite negatively, as The Distillery has always been a gig mecca for the Calgary music scene and it’s always unfortunate to watch key music venues shut down, such as the New Black Centre having to close its doors,” Matusik added.
Matusik isn’t the only musician angry with the news, Deluge’s David Drebit also had a show cancelled because of the suspension.
“Those guys (at The D) work really hard for music in Calgary, it just seems unfair that they keep putting in all of this work just to have things not go their way,” Drebit said.
“As a musician, it has already affected me and my band. We were supposed to play there March 6 with our friend’s band from Kelowna,” Drebit added.
“It makes it hard to have the flexibility to book shows in a city with fewer venues to host live music. We really count on being able to help our friends that tour through Calgary when we can, so to have more bands trying to book fewer venues, it just slows us down culturally.”
The D posted on their Facebook page on Feb. 25 to explain the situation and stating that their doors are still open, just don’t expect live music.
Bevan added to the Facebook post stating “we are currently going through the steps of a License Review Hearing, the next one is an appeal, which we will obviously be doing. As of now all of our energy will be directed towards that.”
Even after all the initial heartache of getting their license suspended, the city suggested that The D is a venue Calgary needs, just not the one Calgary deserves right now.
“The city has told us they do think our establishment is unique and is a place that Calgary needs, they just rather we do it elsewhere,” Bevan said, adding that she isn’t worried this suspension will burn any bridges with local bands.
“We have a great relationships with all the bands, we support each other. The community in Calgary is amazing and as much as it hurt us to cancel upcoming events, they understand,” Bevan said.
“The outpour of support goes to show just that.”