For the second time this year, the House of Blues is before the Boston Licensing Board for a toking performer - this time for one who took a drag onstage then passed her joint to front-row fans.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take against the music hall for the Aug. 17 sharing by Crystal Castles lead singer Alice Glass. At issue is not the exact nature of the material in the lit item as the fact she was lighting up at all in violation of the state's ban on smoking in indoor public places.
House of Blues attorney Dennis Quilty tried the "whadaya gonna do?" defense. On the one hand, he said, the venue has a strict no-smoking policy, which it includes in contracts and which it attempts to enforce through repeated mentions to performers, agents and promoters - as well as through signs in dressing rooms and even pre-show chats with musicians. But "if some jackass on stage lights up" anyway, the club can either attempt to shut down the performance - which he said could lead to a riot in the cavernous facility - or let the smoking continue and deal with it after the fact in regulatory channels.
But the last time the House of Blues was before the licensing board for a pot violation, city fire inspectors in fact ordered the place shut down in the middle of an act, although more for a blocked fire exit than for a performer's backstage smoking that night.
BPD Det. Eric Eversley, who was working a detail in the House of Blues on Aug. 17, told the board what he saw during an encore by Crystal Castles. "The performer would go to edge of the stage and pass a cigarette to someone in the audience and they would take a hit off it and pass it back." Eversley acknoweldeged he did not obtain a sample of the item for testing, but that "it smelled like marijuana to me."
"We've had this situation at the House of Blues before," Connolly said. "While marijuana may be decriminalized with respect to state law, it doesn't make it permissible here with respect to the House of Blues."
House of Blues manager Julie Jordan said she does not take the matter lightly. In addition to the policies outlined by Quilty, "We do 86 them right off the bat" and ban violators from performing there again, she said.