As anyone involved in our music community is aware, the Distillery as you know it is done. The venue that has supported and cultivated Calgary’s thriving independent music scene — every genre without prejudice, veterans and upstarts alike — was effectively put down in November 2012. Let me just say that all of us, the owners, the staff, the patrons, are a resilient bunch. Nothing’s ever come easy for the misfits, outcasts and loners, and we’re no exception. We’ve had a lifetime of curveballs and we’ve learned not to live life looking in the rear-view, but to move forward.
Some of you might remember the first Distillery, a small pub over on Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street S.W. We started out by picking up where our predecessors, such as The Castle Pub and The Night Gallery, left off: by promoting and supporting local independent music, mostly of the punk rock/metal variety. After a few years, we grew too big for our britches, bringing in international acts such as UK Subs, Teenage Head, Del Tha Funky Homosapien and so many more. It was time for a new chapter, so we moved into the downtown nightclub on Seventh Avenue S.W. we called home for almost half a decade.
Our time at The Distillery 2.0 was a great experience and we were able to broaden our horizons, bringing in countless acts, from punk rock (The Dwarves, Strung Out, The Bronx), to metal (Napalm Death, Korpiklanni, Jucifer), to hip hop (Onyx, Tech N9ne, various Wu Tang’s) and electronic (Ill Gates, Datsik, Rusko). We established ourselves as a force to be reckoned with, while at the same time proving you don’t have to play by anyone’s rules but your own.
That brings us to here and now. Although that chapter is over, this book is far from finished. We’ve learned a lot in the last few years and we’ve grown as people, as well. We’re going for the best of both worlds this time, featuring a full kitchen, lots of natural lighting, a patio and a cozy atmosphere to watch the fights or the game, while still supporting our local music scene (it’s in our blood, after all).
Let me also say that if it wasn’t for the incredible community support system we have, stemming from the very same scene, there’s no way we’d be here right now. It’s very humbling, almost overwhelming, to know how important we are to this community. Mark my words: you will never again see a group of friends so passionate about the local scene end up with the largest independent music venue in the heart of a city of a million people. That was once in a lifetime. Cherish the memories. I know we do.
And for that, Calgary, we thank you. Tip one back to the memory of The Distillery, and say hello to The D: Calgary’s newest rock ‘n’ roll pub, located at 222 – 7 St. S.W., open in February.
Here’s to a few more!
By Philly Roach