Well the big day is upon us – the day the whole country will come together to celebrate the legacy of Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip. Since the news came out in May that Downie has inoperable terminal brain cancer, it’s a story that has dominated the headlines and united Canadians. We’ve been sharing stories of that time we saw the Hip play here or there, and collectively envying the lucky few who were able to get their hands on tickets for the Man Machine Poem Tour without paying ridiculous markups to scalpers. That itself was a big enough story that Ontario’s Attorney General did a little investigating into ticketing practices.
I struggle to think of a more quintessentially Canadian rock band than The Tragically Hip. I personally can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t enjoy (or can’t at the very least appreciate) the work they’ve done. Reading what people have been writing across the internet, I think we’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian, period, who doesn’t enjoy The Hip.
There’s a quote, which I took from a YouTube comment of all places, that perfectly describes what Downie means to us:
“This is the quintessence of Gord Downie to Canadians – the wild-eyed sage of wisdom for a country of searchers.” – Peter Byker
It’s a little surprising that they never got that kind of love south of the border, though. Chatting with my girlfriend’s brother, he told me about a time he saw the Hip play a show somewhere down in the States (Pittsburgh, maybe? I can’t remember). He said there were not a ton of people there. Just a small crowd gathered in front of the stage. He and his family were rocking out, singing along with every song. During the show, he chatted with another fella who said “These guys are pretty good, don’t you think?” He clearly wasn’t Canadian, because that’s just something that is understood between Canadians.
They never did get quite the following they deserved down there, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. They’ve toured through the States, so Americans are familiar with them. They appeared on Saturday Night Live back in 1995, and put on one of their typically great performances.
As the Hip have been going across Canada on their farewell tour, the stories have been rolling in of the emotional atmosphere inside the shows. Crowds moved to tears, knowing it’s the last time they’d see one of our country’s most beloved entertainers doing what he does best: captivating us with his quirky brand of showmanship, running and jumping around the stage, going on mid-song rants, and belting out the words we’ve all come to know from memory.
I wasn’t lucky enough to get any tickets to see The Hip. If I wanted to pay thousands of dollars, I probably could have lined the pockets of a scalper, but my moral fibre prevented that from happening. I do have a few friends who went, though, and shared their stories with me. They’ve been special shows, even if they are inherently sad in nature.
The final moments from their show in Toronto this past Sunday night are a perfect example of what I mean. Watch these videos and try not to get a little misty-eyed.
The emotion in Gord’s face. I can’t…
That’s more of that encore, from a different angle. It overlaps with the above video about 3/4 through.
We’ll all get that feeling tonight, I bet, as the whole country settles in to enjoy the final show. If you’re looking for a place to happen, so to speak (that is – looking for somewhere to watch the show), there are plenty of options in the Kawarthas.
Here in Peterborough, we’d love to see you as The Wolf and Spanky’s host the Tragically Hip Broadcast Party in Spanky’s Backyard. If you’re looking for a non-licensed, family-friendly place to gather for the show, Millennium Park in Peterborough is hosting a screening. Bring your lawn chair, and perhaps a couple bucks to be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Proceeds raised at The Last Concert Under The Constellations in Bobcaygeon tonight will also go toward the Canadian Cancer Society. Details:
— CityofKawarthaLakes (@kawarthalakes) August 15, 2016
There are plenty more options in various communities in the Kawarthas. You can find a full listing HERE.
If you’re planning to stay home tonight, you can of course watch the show on your TV. If all you’ve got is a computer, CBC has you covered there too – they’re livestreaming the whole show on their YouTube Channel:
Unfortunately CBC has made it so that the feed won’t work when embedded, so you’ll just have to click the link in the window and watch it on YouTube.
Whatever it is you’re planning tonight, make it memorable – I get the feeling we’ll all be talking about what we were doing the night of the Hip’s last show for years to come.