I’m being disingenuous with that headline, because I’d actually “had it” with Molson the very first time I barfed it all up because Canadian tastes so repulsive.
But this time, they’ve gone and made it personal. Here’s the story:
This is three weeks ago. I’m at the Imperial to see Shabazz Palaces perform as part of Levitation Festival. I’d loaded up earlier on Pabst Blue Ribbon at a buddy’s house (don’t ask), and I was excited to drink at least one good beer. And the Imperial typically has good beer.
Now, I’m not really snooty about beer, but I loathe terrible beer. When terrible is all that’s available, I’m prone to throwing what my wife calls “tantrums.” I call them “fits,” similar to how I imagine the owner of a Lamborghini might react if he was forced to drive a Pontiac Aztek for a day.
Anyway, I was looking forward to the Imperial, which is cinching out the Commodore as the best live venue in Vancouver. The Commodre has the better room, but also arguably the worst beer selection in the city, if not the planet. The Imperial has been a haven for people who are snooty about music and beer.
So imagine my dismay when I walk to the bar, and see not the varied selection I’d expected, but an entire wall of backlight emerald green behind the bar. Nothing but Heineken. All Heineken, everywhere.
The bartender informs me that Molson has sponsored the event tonight, and what I see is what I get. So I ordered a Heineken and I drank two-thirds of it, because like anything Molson-related, the final third tasted as if a goat had swam in it, pissed in it, then gave birth in it. And then I ordered another.
And I was angry. I was angry at Molson for debilitating my, and my beer-loving brethren’s ability to enjoy a good beer at an awesome show. I was angry that Molson tried to mask its sponsorship by serving only Heineken. As if Molson’s brand managers knew the Levitation crowd would be too sophisticated to sell Canadian also, what with their keen musical tastes and fashionable jeans.
It was then that I noticed the massive inflatable pillar on stage left, emblazoned with the Red Bull logo, which seemed weird. Levitation celebrates psychedelic and outsider music, which by nature is anti-commercial and countercultural. Granted, Levitation likely wouldn’t exist without this kind of corporate sponsorship, which would be fine if these corporations weren’t in this case restricting the beer supply and selling only mediocre beer.
This is in no way an isolated occurrence. The week before, legions of Facebook friends were complaining about the dismal beer selection at The Cure concert at Deer Lake Park. Every major venue in the city seems beholden to these Big Brand beer contracts – for what? Fear that they’ll lose out on beer sales if patrons are unfamiliar with the brands?
No! People will drink the beer no matter what (obviously), and if you give them some not terrible choices they’ll be more likely to go back for seconds. What’s it going to take for these big venues to get some bloody decent beer on tap?
My wife, if she were with me, would think I was overreacting as usual, but I don’t think so. Good beer is a small part of what can make or break an experience. Every event that we’ve ever been a part of – a concert, a football game, a backyard barbecue – has been elevated by the quality of what was available there: Was the music good? Was the company enjoyable? Was the food tasty? This all adds to the personal experience. It’s fundamental to event planning.
If the beer’s shit at a concert, those brands are responsible for diminishing our ability to have the best time possible.
So I’m sipping this syrupy Heineken, just obsessing over this issue and before I know it, the show’s over. I’m drunk and disappointed because I can’t remember a single song Shabazz Palaces played.
Naturally, I blame Molson for this and now they’re in my bad books.
Image via Thinkstock.