House of Blues in hot water over underage drinker at country show

For the second time in a month, the House of Blues faces possible penalties from the Boston Licensing Board, this time for a Feb. 15 incident in which a Boston officer found an underage BC student drinking a beer she got with somebody else's out-of-state license.

Last month, the board ordered the House of Blues to shut for three days because fire inspectors found partially blocked exits during a show. The music hall will shut June 6, 7 and 8.

Sgt. Robert Mulvey of District D-4 told the board this morning that when he entered the venue around 9:20 during a "Jagermeister Country Tour" show to investigate why a woman was wobbling around outside, apparently drunk, he spotted another woman who appeared too young to be legally enjoying the beer she had in her hand. He asked to see her ID and she produced a New Jersey driver's license. Unfortunately for her, Mulvey said, she had failed to memorize the information on it, and was unable to provide the address or Zip code on it when he asked. He then asked for her real ID, at which point she provided a Mass. license showing she was only 19 at the time.

House of Blues attorney Dennis Quilty acknowledged the slipup. "They do a very good job but can do better and will do better," he promised, noting the venue already screens young looking people separately at the door and has security staff checking on anybody on the floor with alcohol who looks too young. He said the hall is buying a state-of-the-art license scanner that not only checks whether a license was valid but then prompts a worker to ask a series of validating question, like Mulvey did.

"It pains me to have you before us," board Chairman Daniel Pokaski replied. "The House of Blues is an asset to the city, but we can't allow underage kids in there to be be drinking."

As he did at a hearing last week on a Readville liquor store caught selling beer to a minor, Pokaski said that if there's any doubt at all, a license holder should simply refuse service to somebody with an out-of-state ID. Massachusetts law only holds licensees harmless in cases of valid-looking Massachusetts or military IDs or passports.

"People aren't coming from New Jersey just see some country and western band on Lansdowne Street," he said, adding he doesn't get how Mulvey could so quickly zero in on the teen when bar workers, who deal with the issue every day, missed her.

"You've got to toughen your procedures," he said. "I don't want to see you here again on Tuesdays [when the board holds hearings on license violations]."

The board will vote Thursday on what penalty, if any, to levy.



Free tagging: 


Best line of the article

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"The House of Blues is an asset to the city"-- absolutely. How can we possibly stay in the same league as world-class cities such as Houston and Myrtle Beach if we don't have the same crappy entertainment venues as they do.

They bring big name bands

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They bring big name bands into the city every night at reasonable price. We didn't have anything like that before. Avalon only had concerts on a few nights of the week and was a smaller venue. Even though its a chain (one that started right in Harvard Square mind you) I agree, it's an asset to this city's music scene.

Exactly my point

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I should have added "And listening to the same corporate music as everyone else." Coupla flaws in your argument:

-They don't have live bands every night-- more like four or five nights a week.
-$25 is a "reasonable price" for a club show? Call me old fashioned or just plain old, but let's not pretend that a $25 cover charge is some kind of grand community service they're performing.
-"We didn't have anything like that before." Uh, yes we did, sweetheart-- the Rat, Bunrattys, the Channel, and still do in places like the Middle East and the Paradise. Again, call me old, but let's not pretend that the HoB actually invented anything new here.
-"Harvard Square mind you"-- guffaw. Yeah, thanks, I was aware of the original incarnation's role in the ever-more-wretched chainification of Harvard Square. Which was probably just fine with you-- who wants independent stores and restaurants anyway?


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spot on

I happen to enjoy some of

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I happen to enjoy some of that corporate music. And a lot of those acts that are taking the stage now became popular virally before being signed.

- 4 or 5 nights a week for big acts is still a lot. And they do have live music every night. You can catch local music for free in the restaurant and bar portion if I am not mistaken.

- Who said anything about paying money to see a show a "community service?" Way to be over dramatic to try to prove a misguided point. $25 is VERY reasonable to see acts like George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars considering how much you would have to pay to see them at BOA Pavillion, The Garden or out at Great Woods.

- The Rat, Bunratty's and the Channel are long dead. Unfortunately. So fat load of good that argument has. In your haste to be nostalgic you forgot the still barely standing Orpheum. If you want to talk about shitty acoustics in a shitty venue, there you go.

- I will admit. You got me on this one. However, I will still say that the original House of Blues was a pretty damn cool place.

Finally, don't call me "sweetheart."

Actually, I got you on all of them, sweetheart

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First off: You think the Orpheum a shitty venue with shitty acoustics? What freaking mall are you from?

Second: You wrote: "They bring big name bands into the city every night"-- that's what I was responding to. You said "big name" and "every night," when in fact there are not big names every night. And yeah, I'm aware of the front room-- whoop de doo. This is not unique to House of Blues. Try getting out to one of the many, many good bars that host local music every night-- not just the stuff that the magazines tell you to go see.

Third: I did not say that paying money to see a show was community service-- try rereading it (and get an adult to help, etc.). I was saying that charging a $25 cover-- that is, the venue's charging a $25 cover, not somebody paying a cover-- is not a charitable gesture on their part. They're charging exactly what they need to charge to make the money they think they can make, not doing us some kind of favor.

Fourth: Re: the "fat load of good" of my argument about the closed venues, it was in response to your saying "We didn't have that before." I was simply pointing out that we did have that before, i.e. at some point before now. Again, reading skills here.

Finally: You think the original House of Blues was a pretty damn cool place? Good God. Seriously, go back to the mall that spawned you.

Have you been to the Orpheum

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Have you been to the Orpheum recently? It's falling apart. And architecturally the original House of Blues was a cool place. That's the only reason I will go to Tommy Doyles. Also, I do get out to MANY bars all around the city to hear live music. I actually haven't even been to the House of Blues to hear local bands because I would rather pay a small cover to go support them someplace else. I was simply pointing out that they do have music every night.

As to you attacking my reading and comprehension skills, needing adult assistance and being an uncultured mall rat. I hope anonymously insulting someone with differing opinions make you feel proud of yourself. Retaliate if you will, but this is no longer worth my time.

Awww, taking your ball and going home?

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Your reading and comprehension skills were attacked because you failed to understand-- or deliberately misconstrued-- what I said, and based on attack on that. Have a little snit about it if you want, but get yourself used to the fact that if you attack people, they'll fight back.

Renovation Surcharge

Yeah, honey, well the Orpheum has been falling apart since before you were born - and Don Law has been collecting a surcharge on each ticket for a "renovation fund" since before you were born, too.

The fact that Don Law owns most of the concert venues and ticketing outlets, as well as the Boston Licensing Board, etc. has something to do with this.


It was already pretty rickety in the early 70s -- though I can't remember if a renovation surcharge existed back then.

Call me old - OK, I Will

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We're probably the same age and I remember all those places too. It's too bad they disappeared but OMG it's been a LONG TIME since they've been around. Rachel is younger and likes to go to a place to listen to live local and touring bands -- and has no memory of those places. What the hell is wrong with that? And some of those places sucked HARD and treated customers and bands like crap. And no, $25 isn't a huge price. It's a bag of groceries. Things have changed a lot since 1982. Try getting out more often.

Local Music Series

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Check out the HOB's new local music series. Free local music almost every night of the week in the front room. You might change your mind about it.

I call out both of you, you vile PR peons! Rachel _and_ you!

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Seriously, Matt L. and Rachel-- that is, _if_ those are your real names-- if you were deployed to this site to defend the House of Blues in this matter, you should think things through just a bit more before posting something quite this obvious. For one, you don't sound like anyone who posts here; two, your screen names are unregistered and obviously fake; three, what you're saying sounds blatantly like something out of HoB's marketing copy or their Twitter feed-- I'm looking at you, Matt L.

If you need to, get a grownup to help, but I can assure you and your supervisors that your lame attempts at spin here are hurting, not helping, their cause. Don't take it personally, though-- you're not evil, just incompetent. Unless, of course, you're volunteering these opinions and aren't getting compensated, in which case you probably do suck.


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The wrote about it in the Herald. Not exactly insider info here.


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You're still quoting from the Twitter feed. I didn't say it was insider info-- marketing copy is, by definition, not "insider" anything. Way to pull out the big guns though-- "The (sic) wrote about it in the Herald." OK then, I stand corrected-- that makes it all well and good.

I didn't get this far before

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I didn't get this far before posting a response to your attacks on my opinion before. And "your screen names are unregistered and obviously fake." Funny coming from someone else not registered. Well look, I'm registered now. And I have posted here quite a few times before. Honestly, I think you're the vile one here.

You may think I suck, but at least I'm not a sad bitter person.

Seriously, what does the HoB offer of interest?

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In all the time they've been open, the only act the HoB has booked that I'd be interested in seeing is the New Pornographers. And if the HoB wasn't here, the NPs would have played at the Paradise, the Wilbur, Berklee or someplace else. (I believe they played the Roxy the last time they came through town, or was that the Twin Cinema tour?) So it's not like HoB brought them in and they wouldn't have played here otherwise.

Otherwise, let's see what's on the rest of this month: dude from Sigur Ros, his solo album is shit; 3OH!3 and Cobra Starship might be vaguely of interest if I was 18 and had horrible taste in music; Massive Attack or the double bill of the Reverend Horton Heat and Cracker would be interesting if it was still 1995; either Coheed and Cambria or Steel Pulse might be passable if I still smoked weed; why would I go see Bo Burnham live when I can watch his shit on YouTube anytime I feel like not laughing one little bit.

Meanwhile, at other venues over the same time period, we've got, lessee, Minus the Bear at the Wilbur, The Besnard Lakes at TT's, Caribou, A Silver Mt. Zion, Mumford and Sons, and Mono at the Middle East Down, Spectrum at the Middle East Up, the Shout Out Louds, Dr. Dog w/ Deer Tick, and the Buzzcocks at the Paradise, the Nields and Robbie Fulks at Passim, Shelby Lynne at Johnny D's, Erykah Badu with Janelle Monae at the Orpheum...and those are just the ones I'm most interested in.

So basically, the House of Blues hasn't done shit for the local live music scene.

I seen about a dozen great

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I seen about a dozen great shows there since they opened. Now, I've also seen more shows at Paradise, Great Scott, Middle East and Harper's. I'm not saying HOB is THE place to see live music. I just think its an asset to the Boston music scene since it is bringing in more and better acts than its predecessor did. Also, Paradise didn't start getting better acts till after Avalon shut down and then started getting even bigger names after they switched to new management, closed the lounge and stopped having live music every night. But yeah, they have a consistently good monthly line up. I just don't care to look it up right now.


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The Paradise has been around for over 30 years. I've got tapes of stellar shows at the Paradise by XTC, U2, R.E.M. and various other bands with more than three characters in their names. Many of the best shows I have ever seen in my life, from Mission of Burma to Stereolab to Nellie McKay, have been at the Paradise. And they only started getting good AFTER Avalon closed? I'm thinking we just have very different taste in music.

When I first got to Boston

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When I first got to Boston the shows at Paradise were just so-so. Besides, I'm not talking about the music scene in 1980, I'm talking about the present.

Me too

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And I stand by what I originally said: there are three shows I'd like to see at the Paradise in May 2010, versus zero at the House of Blues.

And I think these are all

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And I think these are all moot points stemming off my original statement that House of Blues is not a crappy entertainment venue.

Not to be difficult..

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but it is. It's a horrible place. $6.00 for Aquafina? I've seen a few shows at the HOB and each time I go there, I say to myself "Is this what rock in Boston has been reduced to?" A far cry from Cantone's, the Space, the Rat, the Paradise in it's heyday and of course the late lamented Channel, which truly was the greatest rock club this city ever had.

The HOB is a horrible, soulless place, totally devoid of any of the spirit that made rock great. It's just a place where bands play because there is no more Channel. I personally hope it fails

"Crappy" may be the wrong term

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Sterile? Homogenous? Absolutely. There's nothing that sets the Boston HoB apart from one in Vegas or Florida. To a somewhat wizened, less adventurous audience, that's perfect. Someone who invests a lot more time in their music and whose ideal day still involves thumbing through crates of records will be left wanting. HoB, the Dise and the Middle East are each great in their own right (unless you like metal, the Palladium in Worcester is not). However, broad-appeal acts rarely play the latter, and it's hard to find new talent and hidden gems at the former.

That said, music in this town suffered for a lack of a large venue. I'm glad to see both HoB and Bowery's new project at the Royale (former Roxy) helping the cause, and I love it when the Wilbur gets into the act. That doesn't stop me from going to Great Scott, Toad and the Lizard Lounge to hear new stuff, though.

I'm sorry you need Disney

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To redo a space with a plastic theme and expensive faux t-shirts and massively overpiced watered-down drinks to have a good time.

Then again, the Boston music scene died when Boston decided it was going to be a Museum of Cranky Old People and stop evolving and changing and attracting enough young adults to keep a local music scene vibrant and healthy. Nobody in college is old enough to drink, and nobody stays after graduation because Boston is so backward.

Agree with some points

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I don't have a huge problem with acoustics except that on the upper floors, you are seated in a ring around the outside (where acoustics are usually the worst because of reflection off the wall, etc).

But the prices at the bars are Fenway/TDGarden-absurd, and the layout with the bars at the corners on the upper floors cause tremendous clogs for foot traffic when trying to push through to the standing/seating areas on the upper decks.

All in all, I'm glad I went for the one concert I went to see (Zee Avi and Pete I was there to see Zee specifically. But I don't think I'll go back any time soon.

Wallet of Blues

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House of Blues has its pluses and minuses, but I'd have to agree with some of the sentiments here that the bad things outweigh the good. I've only gone to one show right around the time it first opened and unless there is something I really want to see, I probably won't return. If you're familiar with the Philadelphia show scene, it reminds me of the Electric Factory versus all the other amazing venues there (Starlite Ballroom, Kung Fu Necktie, First Unitarian Church, even the Trocadero). The same comparison can be used for Boston venues (Great Scott, TTs, Middle East Up/Down, Paradise).

Ultimately, ticket prices are generally higher than other venues in the area, which is fine, but still weighs into my decision. My biggest complaint with HOB specifically is the price gouging on beers. If I'm already paying a higher ticket price, slapping me with a price that's close to double compared to what most other venues in Boston charge for beer really makes it tough for me to justify going to the venue. Couple that with the fact that there's no re-entry so I can't go to another bar and drink if the opening band sucks makes HOB a pretty horrible experience in my book (of course, if the prices were reasonable I'd actually want to stay there and drink). I could always just not drink beer, but that's part of my personal show-going experience and also factors into my decision.

In regards to the underage thing, I was at the Fillmore in San Francisco last year and they had a pretty novel approach (in other words, something I've never seen done around here) to try and alleviate the problem. The bouncer/ID checker at the door would start saying the birth date listed on your ID and you'd have to finish the year. Additionally, when you got a drink at the bar, you could only get a drink from the same bartender the entire night, and if you got drinks for anyone else, the bartender would have to see their wristband as well. Worked out really well, especially because the bartender was super personable and got a nice big tip at the end. Still, it kind of baffles me why more venues (especially larger ones like HOB) don't use ID scanners in the first place...

You're really going to argue

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You're really going to argue that it's a bad venue because the music acts that book it don't appeal to you?

Seriously? This may be the worst argument I've ever seen at UH.

I dont give a shit who ends up at the middle east downstairs, as a venue, it sucks. The paradise sucks too. The orpheum isnt bad, but its all seated. And before you ask, yes Ive been to all the venues (and avalon, and axis, and agganis and middle east upstairs, and more).

When Avalon shut down, some bands went to the middle east, some went to paradise, some skipped Boston....but a majority ended up at the Palladium in worcester (best venue IMO, except for distance).

So what the HoB did for the local music scene, is bring those acts back from Worcester by filling in the 3,000 person concert venue hole.

Well, yeah

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Even if the HoB was the greatest music venue in town, it still wouldn't be of any use to me if it only books bands I don't give a shit about. And with unbelievably rare exceptions, the House of Blues only books bands I don't give a shit about. So yeah, for me and my musical needs, the HoB is a bad venue. Why is that a bad argument?

For you, yes.

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If you don't like classical music or the occasional Pops concert, then yes, Symphony Hall would not be your ideal music venue.

You ninny.

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Symphony Hall is an objectively fine venue for music, regardless of whether Rush will be appearing there any time soon. No offense, but your argument is shockingly dim here - the issue is whether the House of Blues sucks as a music venue (ie - whether it has good acoustics, proper sight lines, easy access to the bar and restrooms, etc.)

I suppose the Colosseum was a shitty venue because you don't like to watch gladiators.

I'm a BSO subscriber

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And as such, I concur that Symphony Hall is magnificent, both acoustically and visually.

Nowhere was I making an argument that the HoB is an inferior venue AS A VENUE. I was merely pointing out that as long as they continue booking shit bands I don't care about, it is of no use to me. I'm very sorry that you don't understand the difference.

Honestly you do?

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Well, honestly, that hurts. Honestly. Where you get that I'm "sad and bitter" from my having an opinion that chain-anything isn't a good thing is beyond me. Sad, maybe, that people like you seem to think it's OK to turn this town into a copy of whatever inferior town they're from, and bitter that you're making progress, but please-- spare me your condescension.

Yes. I do.

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You called me a vile pr peon and said that I suck for my opinion. How is that any better? I'm sorry the Boston of 2010 isn't the sam as
the Boston of 1983.

How sorry are you?

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Sorry enough to move away? Because that would be awesome.

And hey, wait a minute-- I thought this argument wasn't worth your valuable time. Guess your time isn't that valuable after all, eh?

Hey, Tipsy!

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Flame wars? How quaint! I think she gets the point,no? Just because she wasn't around to watch Alpo slam his bass into the stomach of a drunk guy who knocked his cabinet over at Cantone's doesn't mean she deserves abuse.

Is simply looking young just

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Is simply looking young just cause for requesting ID? I understand it is private property.

I work at a liquor store in

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I work at a liquor store in Boston. We are required to check ID if the person appears to be younger than 30. If I'm not sure I just ask.

As far as I know, the law says that you can only accept MA-issued IDs and passports. Technically we can't accept out of state ID but we do anyway (and no, I won't say which store, but I'm sure they all follow the same procedures we do).

The law should be changed.

That policy annoys me ;-)

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I've been to so many places where it says "we card anyone under 30," (or 28, or 25, ororor) not "we card people who look under 30," and have gotten carded. I'm over 30 but don't necessarily look like it. And when I point to the sign and tell them I appreciate them being thorough and all, but I'm not under 30, then they tell me I don't look like it. Then word your sign to say what you actually mean! :o)


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But I'm talking about NOW dammit. NOW NOW NOW. MINE MINE MINE. I'll get to "get offa my lawn" soon enough. Right now it's all about ME.

(FWIW, my mom was getting carded until she was about 50. We have some ridiculously young genes. I got asked for a hall pass at a high school last month, and the person wasn't kidding.)

Well, maybe

It doesn't bother me that getting older just happens. I don't buy youth=worth and wouldn't want to be a teen or even a young adult again for all the whatever in wherever.

That said, I'm in my 40s, my old enough to drink is old enough to drink, and I still get carded. But I sincerly doubt that this has anything to do with "age verification". I think it is called "flirting".

Yes, it is

Venues are supposed to ask for ID from everyone, not make judgments based on how young they *think* a patron might be, so I would assume that a police officer checking IDs has every right to ask as well. I've been turned away from clubs when I was over 30 and forgotten my ID.

"Is simply looking young just

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"Is simply looking young just cause for requesting ID?"

I assume you mean for a cop to ask for ID.

There's no legal requirement to carry ID in Massachusetts, even if you're drinking. MGL 138-34b says the authorities can ask for your name, age, and address if you're in a venue with a liquor license. If you refuse to answer, or lie, the fine is $500, and you can be arrested.

It's not illegal for a cop to ask you for ID, but you don't have to do it -- you just have to give your name, age, and address. (But good luck convincing the cop of that.)

Employees of the venue can ask you for ID, and refuse to serve you or ask you to leave if you don't show it.

The underage drinking

The underage drinking paranoia is ridiculous. It's never going to change so I won't beat that dead-and-buried horse but I have had regular problems in MA with my NH license. I carry my old MA license as backup which I have continued to renew, which someone recently told me is a fineable offense.

"People aren't coming from New Jersey just see some country and western band on Lansdowne Street," he said

I'm sure she couldn't possibly be attending one of our numerous local universities!

129 Torrington Road, Gadsden, Alabama 35904

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Yup, still remember the address from my college fake ID. (I turn 27 in a month.) Could only imagine what my GPA would have been if I put the same effort into studying for tests as memorizing my fake address.

I remember it was pretty common for older sorority girls to give their IDs to freshmen and sophomores so they could go to bars. If the girl was pretty enough and the hair color matched, they were usually golden.

"No corrective lenses

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"No corrective lenses tonight, Mr. Papagiorgio?"

"No. I do not require them."

Jokes aside...

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I had a cop ask me where my corrective lenses were after pulling me over. And I was like, they're in my eyes. Only more polite, since, well, cop. He hemmed and hawed a bit and wasn't sure that counted or that I could prove it blah blah blah. Um, what?

What a fool

You can see the contact lenses in somebody's eyes. Shine a light at them, have them look to the side.

Whadda eedgitt!

Simple Solution

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Change the drinking age back to 18.

Boston establishments should exercise due diligence in finding and refusing those who are under age; but lets get serious here. If a person has a good fake ID, there's really not much they can do. Some people look much younger [or older] then they really are.

Shouldn't the burden be on those who knowingly used false identification?

If bouncers are just letting anyone in, I could see the fuss on the establishment to get better gatekeepers; but ultimately due to whats considered ID its a judgment call with some leeway.

"The House of Blues is an asset to the city"

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my ass. It's an overpriced rat trap with bad sound. I suppose Mr. Pokaski does want to stay in good with Pat Lyons, you know, just in case he ever decides to enter the private sector. I see him as a maitre d at Mistral.

Is one obliged to provide ID in this circumstance?

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"He asked to see her ID and she produced a New Jersey driver's license."

Am I obliged to do more than state my name and address when asked for identification in Massachusetts?

Nope. But the cops can give

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But the cops can give you as much hell as they're legally allowed. Lots of old laws on the blue books unfortunately.

more than your name?

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They are a licensed establishment. One who is drinking alcohol in a licensed establishment needs to prove he/she is old enough. The MGL's include that an inspector can enter and verify the age of drinkers.
BTW there are 5 acceptable forms of ID's according to the MGL's. MA drivers license, MA liquor ID, military ID, passport and/or a US Passport Card.

"The MGL's include that an

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"The MGL's include that an inspector can enter and verify the age of drinkers."

Only by asking for your name, age, and address. Legally, authorities cannot punish you for not showing them your ID.

"The House of Blues is an asset to the city"

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my ass. It's an overpriced rat trap with bad sound. I suppose Mr. Pokaski does want to stay in good with Pat Lyons, you know, just in case he ever decides to enter the private sector. I see him as a maitre d at Mistral.

They need us

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The House of Blues needs Boston more than Boston needs the House of Blues. Sure it is mroe than Avalon, but when you add up all the clubs that used to be on Landsdowne St and look at all the different styles of music that you could here every night, then you realize that one club cannot replace all that we lost. The joke from Spinal Tap holds true and will for the next 50 years. Boston is a college town, bands HAVE to play here.

I hope the corporate dump that is House of Blues ends up closing. We don't need them.


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ah the good old days.