New B.C. liquor laws have the future of underage bands on the rocks

Dec 19 2017, 6:56 am

With the new liquor license restrictions in Vancouver, it appears the beer mug is half full for many all-age venues. On January 15, 2013, a change in B.C. policy befell our brew-loving land, stating that all-age shows are no longer permitted at venues with liquor primary licenses. The new law is seriously cramping the style of some local bands, who have been forced to find other places to play.

Lead singer of The Casinos, Kier Junos, says they have played in some odd venues before, but now, because of the new restrictions, they have to go to even more extremes in order to get a show. “The show that we have this Friday is at a church. It’s in a church hall. Just in the middle of Chilliwack; the middle of nowhere” says Junos, emphasizing the abnormality of the location. It’s harder now than ever before for underage bands like The Casinos to break into the Vancouver music scene, and the mentality is becoming one of near lethal desperation. “A gig is a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig. You know what I mean?” questions Junos rather excitedly. “A gig is a gig no matter what. We’ll play anything…well almost anything.”

So when the going gets dry, we must ask why?

Ministry spokesperson for the Liquor Licensing Branch says the prohibition is due to public concern. “We cannot condone any all-age events that may pose a public safety risk, particularly when minors will be present. The change was required to address growing public safety concerns from police, local governments, teachers and parents about teenagers consuming alcohol before, after and during all-ages events hosted at de-licensed bars and nightclubs.” The licensing branch concludes that by imposing the new rules for de-licensing, it will enable liquor primary bars and nightclubs to continue to operate as they were originally intended.

Regardless of the mix, the liquor law doesn’t seem to be sitting well.

In these tumultuous times, while the Shirley Temple prepares for a comeback, eighteen-year-old Kier Junos and his band of boys are left feeling a bit confused. “I’m wondering where venues draw the line, because I have some friends from other bands, many with underage members, who are still able to play. It all seems so up in the air.”

For The Casinos, playing music isn’t just a hobby, but something they want to make a living out of one day. While the reality of their dreams may be temporarily shaken (and stirred), Junos returns my call close to midnight with a casual coolness, “honestly, we will try whatever we can get, I’m sure something will come up soon.”

photo credit: James Rempel

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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