| INSIDER | Tragically Hip ready to rock Guelph Lake | INSIDER | Tragically Hip ready to rock Guelph Lake

Here’s an article about the upcoming Hip show in Guelph… and it even quotes a Hipbase member!

Tragically Hip ready to rock Guelph Lake


Tragically Hip

GUELPH (Jun 16, 2006)

The last time the Tragically Hip were in town, they were just a bunch of unknown lads from Kingston led by a Gord Downey with a full head of hair.

It was some time in the late 1980s, and the iconic Canadian rock band was making the rounds of the indie college music circuit.

Sam Baijal, then a student who worked part time for the University of Guelph, recalls them playing 45 or 50 minutes inside Peter Clarke Hall on campus. He remembers the university planned to offer the band as a free noon-hour show in the courtyard of the University Centre, but that was booked.

Wayne Hepburn, who booked shows for the university between 1969 and 2000, said the band sold about 400 tickets for a venue that was licensed for 600.

What a difference 20 years makes.

On March 31, fans across Canada and the U.S. lapped up 5,000 tickets for this Sunday’s concert at Guelph Lake in under 30 minutes. Now if you want to get in, you can fork over as much as $200 for a pair of tickets on EBay.

“We didn’t know who they were at the time,” said Baijal, one of the organizers with the Hillside Festival who brought the Hip back to Guelph for Sunday night’s concert. “I met these guys and I said ‘where did you come up with that crazy name?’ That was the first thing I said to them.”

Baijal said he particularly remembers Downey, the band’s charismatic and eccentric lead singer. The bald, neat look Downie is now known for was years off.

“He was wearing a suede-type cowboy-style hat with long hair. He looked like a hippie,” Baijal recalls.

Hepburn said the Hip found commercial success not long after their performance in Guelph and became too expensive to bring back.

Considering over the years he had booked other unknowns, including a 19-year-old Jim Carrey and a band called the Barenaked Ladies, he was used to it. “After that, they were too big to book,” Hepburn said.

Though the rest of the band won’t be familiar with the surroundings Sunday night, the lead singer will. Downie performed there during the Hillside Festival in 2003 as part of small tour he did that summer to promote his solo work.

The band should be warmed up and well travelled, having played in Pittsburgh on Friday night and Lewiston, N. Y., tomorrow. Fans can expect a good range of songs from their 11 studio albums, plus a few new ones from the as-yet unnamed album to be released this fall.

Although it’s been two years since the release of their last album and the Hip have never had been a platinum-selling act, Sunday’s sellout is a testament to the band’s core of loyal fans.

Count among them Mike McIntyre, a 26-year-old Guelph insurance broker who has been listening to the Hip since he was 12 years old.

On Sunday, you’ll find him at the lake, getting started good and early. Even his sister — flying in from Victoria to see the band — is volunteering in the beer tent because it was the only way she could get into the concert.

“This is huge. Fans around here think they’ve died and gone to heaven,” McIntyre said. “As far as I’m concerned, my summer kicks off this Sunday.”

McIntyre belongs to an online community of Hip fans (, and said people have been buzzing for weeks about the chance to see the band in what for them is considered a small venue. No matter what you think about their music, you’ve got to respect the group for their staying power, he said.

“Gord Downie just puts his heart and soul into every performance, and the rest of the guys feed off him. They’ve got more energy on stage than bands half their age,” he said.

Maybe it’s the food. Just ask Appetizingly Yours Catering and Events, the Guelph company that will provide three meals to the Hip and their staff Sunday. According to owner Ingrid von Cube, the band has requested “normal food,” simple, fresh snacks and meals with an emphasis on healthy eating. There will be vegetarian options as part of the buffet and a chicken dish grilled on site.

The band hasn’t requested any alcohol, she said.

The only problem is deciding who works that day, von Cube said.

“We’ve been fighting over who gets to go. We had to draw straws,” she said. “All the chefs were like ‘I’ll go! I’ll go!’ ”

“Who isn’t a fan of the Tragically Hip? They’re a Canadian institution, like hockey,” adds one of von Cube’s employees, Julie Watt.

The band’s lack of demands on the caterers seems to fit their down-to-earth reputation. They’ll dine casually, using Styrofoam plates and they’ll eat with their stage crew.

While the concert will maintain the grassroots feel Hillside — which runs July 28-30 — has become known for, organizers have to contend with some of the headaches associated with big draws like the Hip.

Baijal said organizers are frustrated by scalpers who are using the Internet to turn around tickets for a quick profit. He said anyone caught selling tickets near the site on Sunday will be handed over to police.

“If there’s scalpers out there trying to sell tickets, we’ll have them removed,” he said.

And don’t think about swimming or paddling over. The shoreline will be watched by security, Baijal said.



Parking: $10 per vehicle (expect a 10-minute walk to stage)

Gates open at 4 p.m.

No coolers, cans or bottles. (Except sealed water bottles)

No lawn chairs or folding chairs

Food, beer and wine can be bought on site

Sunday’s Performers

Buck 65: 6-6:30 p.m.

Weakerthans: 6:45-7:30 p.m.

Tragically Hip: 8-10 p.m.