Langley indie-rocker Patrick McWilliams. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley indie-rocker responds to criticism on recent night out to Granville Street

Gone Sugar Die frontman Patrick McWilliams received backlash for “party bus” amid COVID-19 pandemic

Langley indie-rocker and front man of Gone Sugar Die Patrick McWilliams says he is still receiving backlash and seeing misinformation spread about his involvement with a bus that travelled from the Fraser Valley to Granville Street bar earlier this month.

McWilliams said he and a group of 14 friends – not 25 as he said was originally being reported – rented a vehicle for a night out to save on taxi fares and celebrate several birthdays.

“It was basically a glorified limo, not a party bus,” he told the Langley Advance Times.

The controversy comes amid rising coronavirus cases in B.C., attributed to 19 to 39 demographic because of relaxed social distancing measures in crowded places such as bars and nightclubs.

The musician said he was surprised to find his evening make headlines the next morning, with the Hotel Belmont’s bar manager claiming there had been an altercation after denying the group entry.

“We never actually went into the Belmont, we were just dropped off in front as a meeting place,” McWilliams said, adding that he feels the nightclub used him as a scapegoat to blame rising COVID numbers on party goers and not establishments opening their doors.

Despite the initial media attention, McWilliams said he fears there could be damage done to his career, even though he is confident he and his friends took all of the proper precautions.

“I feel the commentary on this whole things is that people want this villain,” McWilliams added.

He was recently picked as one the top three artists in B.C. to play the Canada Day festival in Surrey.

READ MORE: Langley musician up for spot on Surrey Canada Day’s virtual concert stage

The artist released his first EP in 2016 by recording what would become his debut demo tape called Lightning Dolphin, gaining over 100,000 plays in 48 hours on Spotify.

Now, McWilliams is releasing a single this September with Pet Shop Records called “Eyeliner,” which has potential to grow into a record deal.

He is also aiming to open his own public relations/media company in downtown Langley later in the fall.

But at the same time, a concerned reader told the Langley Advance Times that there is a campaign to ban McWilliams from playing the Granville strip due to his behavior.

The musician said he is receiving hostile messages and overwhelming attention, which he called both disheartening and terrifying.

“When something like this happens, it surprises and hurts me,” McWilliams said. “No one should take me seriously or amp me up as some kind of spectacle.”

While he maintains that no one in his bubble of friends has COVID-19, McWilliams noted that he made a mistake and is asking people to to move on.

“Bonnie Henry sets the rules and we’re in phase three, so we weren’t doing anything that we weren’t supposed to,” he said. “If she went back now to a full quarantine, I would do that.”

Langley Advance Times reached out to Hotel Belmont but did not receive a response.

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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