Mark C. Austin
Before The Hip's July 26 set in Pemberton B.C., I overheard one kid in the crowd say, "It's too Canadian to pass


Can Anyone Explain the Tragically Hip to Me?

Mark C. Austin
Before The Hip's July 26 set in Pemberton B.C., I overheard one kid in the crowd say, "It's too Canadian to pass up."
The Tragically Hip

When: June 17

Where: The Moore

Cost: $35, via Ticketmaster, on Friday

The Hip are as big in Canada is Burt Reynolds is down here. And I just don't get it. At all. Last year at Pemberton Fest my friend and I -- seemingly the only Americans in the room -- couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. I don't know. I don't like mayo on my burger, either.


SEATTLE - Seattle Theatre Group (STG) presents The Tragically Hip on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 8:00pm at the Moore Theatre.

Formed in 1983 in Kingston, Ontario, The Tragically Hip came together with childhood friends Gordon Downie (vocals), Bobby Baker (guitar), Paul Langlois (guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass), and Johnny Fay (drums). The group took their name from a Michael Nesmith video entitled Elephant Parts and focused on making a name for themselves in the local scene during the mid-'80s. While performing Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, MCA Records president Bruce Dickinson was impressed by the Hip's infectious live presence and offered them a deal. A self-titled eponymous EP appeared in 1987, but it took the band two years to get critical attention. Their proper studio debut effort, 1989's Up to Here boasted the swagger of "Blow at High Dough" and Downie's powerful songcraft was blossoming. College charts were instantly attracted and fellow Canadians were appreciative of The Tragically Hip's insatiable appeal. Road Apples, issued in 1991, was moderately successful; however, the band's third album, Fully Completely (1993), allowed for international crossover. Singles such as "Courage" and "Wheat Kings" became mainstays in pockets of Michigan and New York; the Hip were slowly being noticed and American fans began cherishing them as much as their Canadian loyalists. They continued with a steady rise for 1995's somber storm, Day for Night, and their star power was burgeoning. Sold-out tours across Canada and Midwest America and a spot on Saturday Night Live catupulted the vibrance of "Grace, Too" onto modern rock charts. The Tragically Hip were becoming an anthemic band among the split indie and rock crowds, practically on the verge of being an arena attraction.

Trouble at the Henhouse, their first for Atlantic, was blistering with similar passion of Day for Night, but released too closely to the previous effort. It wasn't radio-friendly enough for America, either, but the band wasn't concerned. The Hip trudged on, selling out countless dates in North America. Downie, who was also a poetic madman, composed a frenzied stage presence and the band's tight rhythm was infectious. The mix of roots rock and light country tinges was something tangible for the mid-'90s grunge reign. While touring in support of Trouble at the Henhouse, the Hip recorded their first-ever live album, Live Between Us (1997). This particular album captured an astonishing night at Detroit's Cobo Arena in 1996 and was uncut and unfearing. The band was at the top of its game, never selling out to corporate ideals. They were a stadium sensation without ever having a major hit in America. The rest of the '90s were a time of rest, but also a period when the band returned to basics of true rock & roll grit.

Phantom Power (1998), the band's sixth studio album, eighth overall, marked their most cohesive work to date. It was also their debut for Sire Records. The album was recorded in the band's hometown of Kingston and the songs themselves were cathartic and seductive. "Fireworks" and "Poets" were again mainstays on college radio. A showcase at Woodstock '99 proved glorious for Canadians the next summer. Music @ Work followed in summer 2000 with subsequent U.S. tours with Guster. The next year, Gordon Downie put his pen to paper for a book of poetry and a solo album, entitled Coke Machine Glow. Downie returned to the studio in 2001 to join his bandmates for another Hip record. Producer Hugh Padgham (Split Enz, XTC, Phil Collins) was also on board to tweak The Tragically Hip's ninth record, In Violet Light, issued in June 2002. In Between Evolution, the band most instrospective work yet, followed in summer 2004. The following year saw the release of Hipeponymous, a limited-edition box set that included the two-disc greatest-hits compilation Yer Favorites and the live DVD That Night in Toronto: Pierre & Francois Lamoureux as well as a bonus DVD of all of the group's videos. Fellow Canadian and famed producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe) signed on for the Hip's 11th studio LP, World Container. Intimate club shows in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and Montreal were also scheduled in celebration of its release in fall 2006.

The Hip have recorded 15+ songs at The Bath House Recording Studio in Bath, Ontario, twelve of which will appear on their upcoming 12th album. Short videos showing the recording process of the new album have been posted at thehip.com, the newly re-launched official website of the band. A new live recording is also posted in the media player section of the frequently updated site. The new album is again produced by Bob Rock, will be released in North America on April 7th, 2009 and is titled We are the Same.

Tickets: $35.00, not including applicable fees. Tickets are on sale Friday, March 6 at 10am at Tickets.com, in person at the Paramount or Moore Theatres box offices, 24-hour kiosks located outside The Paramount & Moore Theatres, charge by phone at 877-STG-4TIX, or online at STGPresents.org.

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