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She Stole My Beer returns to Victoria after 25-year absence

In the early ’90s , She Stole My Beer was known in Victoria for its three-night runs at the former Harpo’s Cabaret — bookings that would almost assuredly be sold out, no matter how many times they played the market.
Vancouver roots rockers She Stole My Beer return to Victoria on Saturday for the first time since 1998. SUBMITTED


Where: Wicket Hall, 919 Douglas St. (Strathcona Hotel)

When: Saturday, March 18, 8 p.m. (doors at 7:30)

Tickets: $25 from; $30 at the door

In the early ’90s, few bands were more dependable than Vancouver’s She Stole My Beer.

The band was known locally for its three-night runs at the former Harpo’s Cabaret — bookings that would almost assuredly be sold out, no matter how many times they played the market.

No band in the years since has been able to top that mark.

She Stole My Beer plays concerts on a semi-regular basis today, primarily in and around Vancouver.

But don’t expect any three-night runs these days: The band’s concert at Wicket Hall tonight, its first appearance in Victoria since 1998, is a one-off, not a Thursday-Friday-Saturday stand like in its heyday.

“We miss those days where we could sit in a residency for two or three nights and just relax,” singer-guitarist Chad Chilibeck said. “But getting seven adult males together is like herding cats these days. And if we can’t play a show with all of the members present, we just won’t do it.”

Chilibeck is joined in the group by Tom Taylor (guitar, vocals), Jordan White (keyboards), Dean Waisman and Liam MacDonald (drums), Franco Diligenti (percussion) and David Hughes (bass, vocals). Most have been with the band since its formation in 1986, when many of the founding members were just out of high school.

She Stole My Beer stuck mostly to the party-bar circuit during its peak, turning in marathon sets that mixed originals and covers — always with an emphasis on having a good time. “We’d go to Whistler one weekend, Vancouver the next weekend, and Victoria the other weekend. Then we’d take a week off. We did that for four years,” Chilibeck said.

“We got that jam-band reputation, but really we were just stretching songs out a little bit. We’d play Neil Young songs and Bob Dylan songs, it wasn’t necessarily just Grateful Dead stuff. But we had that vibe. If we were feeling good, we could go forever.”

The group became so good at its job, many fans would take in more than one concert during their monthly runs in Victoria. No two shows were ever the same during that period, Chilibeck said.

She Stole My Beer made a point of never repeating songs, out of respect for the fans who attended multiple shows. “We couldn’t play the same song twice even if we wanted to do. It always changes a little bit.”

She Stole My Beer reached its apex around 1992, when its second album, Mule, secured distribution through MCA Records. The band opened for Colin James at the Royal Theatre in 1996, one of its last hurrahs in the market.

Shows in Victoria eventually moved over to now-defunct venues like Vertigo and The Limit when Harpo’s closed, but the magic was effectively gone.

Chilibeck took a few years off following the band’s split with MCA. “I owed my parents money,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone was turning 30 and getting married and having kids. But for all of us, once the music became part-time, without the pressure of making a hit single for your record company, it got fun again.”

She Stole My Beer recorded a new album, Shakin’ the Chalet, in 2019, but the release lost momentum in the COVID-19 fog. Chilibeck said the band is eager to play some of the new songs live. They also have a new handful of covers at the ready, though the night is designed to be open-ended, he added.

“It’s fun to read a crowd and think, ‘Oh, these people want a country dance.’ There have been times where we’ve played every country song we’d know just to keep people happy.”