Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tragically Hip At the Hundredth Meridian

The Tragically Hip concert broadcast live on CBC

There were over 11 million Canadians gathered around a boxed campfire on a Saturday night, otherwise known as a live television broadcast. While it was during an Olympic Games, it wasn't for hockey, which would be the only time an entire country might shut down all of its activity for a single event. No. This time, it was a concert. People were tweeting, posting on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and pretty much every platform they could to connect, share, and witness this historic moment in history.

August 20, 2016 was a big day in Canada. It was the final farewell of The Tragically Hip, aka Canada's band. It's lead singer Gordon Downie was diagnosed with terminal cancer and rather than lay low and convalesce, he and the band embarked on a final 15-concert tour that culminated in Kingston, Ontario. Why Kingston? That was the birthplace of the band.

So Canadians gathered together in body, mind, and spirit to view the band's final concert, which was broadcast commercial-free on CBC. Even Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Kingston to watch it live.

It may not have been as big a deal in other countries, as The Hip sang lyrics about Canada and Canadian culture. With all the buzz they saw in their social feeds from their Canuck friends, maybe the band will finally see some hits in far away lands.

It was fitting that well-known hockey anchor Ron McLean, surrounded by Canadian athletes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil opened and introduced the live stream broadcast. The Hip did not disappoint. There were even three encores. Gord Downie had one moment in the concert where he broke down. It might have been initially overlooked as part of the live performance, but then when it continued, you could see the pain in his facial expressions, and tears in his eyes, as this was the final performance he would ever do. The fans cried, too.

It is doubtful we will ever see another moment like this one. There isn't another Canadian band in past and future sight that would have the impact that The Tragically Hip has. The band IS Canada. It defines the people, tells their stories, and makes no apologies for being all-out Canadian.

In most events, be it sports, a television series, election, or speech -- Twitter will trend, people will tweet, take screenshots for Instagram and Facebook, and carry on conversations with people they don't know and others within their own networks. It's like a gathering around a campfire. Only the logs on this puppy made those flames roar awfully high.