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Calgary’s live music scene dealt a blow as Distortion closes its doors

Calgary has lost one of its premier live music venues in the city.

Distortion announced on Facebook Thursday night it would be shutting its doors effective immediately.

The post said it had been a good, 11-and-a-half year run.

“We put our best foot forward,” read the post. “We can blame the economy, taxes, rising costs of overhead especially with liquor and staff, or the fact that less people are simple going out. But in the end does it matter?”

Vocalist and guitarist Skyler Mills of Calgary band When Minds Develop said it’s devastating to the entertainment community in the city, especially those in the metal scene.

“There are big bands that go through Distortion,” he said. “It was just like the backbone of our community.”

His band had played several shows at Distortion – the last one being about a year ago on the bill with Unleash the Archers.

Mills said Distortion was known for fostering new bands, and giving them a chance to take the stage for the first time.

“When you go there you know that you’re going to get – you know it’s going to be a friendly environment and you can be comfortable,” said Mills.

Reye Leduc, art and events director at Junction YYC made the offer to pick up some of the bookings that may now be cancelled due to the closure.

He said he can’t promise Junction will be the right venue for every band, but they want to keep that diversity of live acts alive. Distortion also hosted rock, country and hip-hop acts.

“We’ll certainly have the offer out there to Katie from Distortion,” said Leduc. “We can at least continue to showcase original talent in Calgary.”

He said Distortion appeared to have shows booked through the summer until early September, so it showed him how quickly things can change in a volatile economy.

Working at a venue that just opened in February, Leduc said they’re aware of the unexpected challenges that come from outside forces, such as changes in taste or rising minimum wage.

“If people knew the costs, they wouldn’t begrudge the $10 ticket, or a $7 or $8 beer,” he said.

Leduc said most of the money they bring in goes to paying the band, the staff, and the overhead costs.

“It’s not just a sad news tale – it’s a cautionary tale,” he said. “If you want it to be vibrant in this city, you’ve got to support the arts.”