Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!
Need to catch up? Previously:
- The Tragically Hip – My “Un-plucked” History
- Review: The Tragically Hip EP (1987)
- Review: Up to Here (1989)
- Review: Road Apples (1991)
- Review: Fully Completely (1992)
- Review: Day For Night (1994)
- Review:Trouble At the Henhouse (1996)
- Review: Live Between Us (1997)
- Review: Phantom Power (1998)
- Review: Music @ Work (2000)
- Review: In Violet Light (2002)
- Review: In Between Evolution (2004)
- Review: That Night in Toronto (DVD)(2005)
- Review: Yer Favourites (2005)
- Review: World Container (2006)
- Review: We Are the Same (2009)
- Review: Now For Plan A (2012)
When I first learned that there was another Tragically Hip concert film, titled Bobcaygeon, I got excited. The last Hip concert film we watched, That Night in Toronto, was pretty good, so I was ready to settle in and see Gord and the Boys at it again. This film was to be significant, chronicling the major concert that took place June 25, 2011, in the small town of Bobcaygeon, Ontario, the subject of one of the Hip’s best known songs of the same name. This concert was a big deal: 25000 fans, converging on a town of 2500 basically in the middle of nowhere.
Bobcaygeon, however, is not simply a concert film; it gives an inside look into the planning and execution of a huge undertaking. The concert already two years into its planning at this point, the film begins just days ahead of the event where we are first introduced to the key organizers of the event as they arrange and assemble the stage in the middle of an empty field. We sit in on a town meeting where public safety, parking and affected local business is discussed. We meet the local townsfolk who are excited for the concert, meanwhile an unhappy bride who booked her wedding on the same day and time as the concert can’t get lodging for her guests. We follow a handful of Hip fans and ticketholders from all walks of life as they share what the Hip and this concert means to them.
Lastly, we are given a backstage peek into the Tragically Hip as they prepare to perform in concert. I wrote in my notes, “FINALLY!” as in finally, we get to see this intensely private band interact outside of performing! But as I watched, hoping to learn new personal details, in the end I didn’t really get anything profound, except that Johnny Fay wore braces and liked to use alcohol wipes instead of pit stick. I guess that’s…something private…
Mostly, I was surprised to see Bobcaygeon didn’t show the Hip’s complete concert here – only four songs are actually shown performed in full, and only eight songs in total:
- Grace, Too
- We Want to Be It
- Ahead By a Century
- It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken (Full)
- Courage (For Hugh MacLennon)
- At the Hundredth Meridian (full)
- Bobcaygeon (full)
- Fifty Mission Cap (full)
But, the fact that director Andy Keen chose to concentrate less on the Hip’s proper concert performance and more on everything else is a little disappointing. This was a big Hip event! As important as it was to show the set-up of the concert, some of the doc’s focus was not very interesting: a tattooed family of four and their concern for booze after the concert? Pass. As for the rest of the fan stories, hey, I’m already a fan, you don’t need to convince me to like the Hip. Now, let’s see ’em perform!
In any case, I can say though that the look and sound of this film on blu-ray is pretty damn good. The sound mixing was especially impressive, drawing out elements I wasn’t expecting, like Gord Sinclair’s baselines, for example.
The Bobcaygeon blu-ray itself is barebones – containing only the film, no extras. What would have been fab is including the entire concert on a second disc. We all know the whole show was documented…I’m led to believe that Bobcaygeon is a film solely meant for fans – die-hard ones at that, who already know the story and want a bit of behind-the-scenes, and maybe some fan tales. Those who are new to the Hip, however, would likely not get the concert experience they should be getting; for them, I’d recommend That Night in Toronto. Overall, though, as a fan, I enjoyed Bobcaygeon for what it was: a doc that set up the planning and execution of what was a great event in a small town. I just wish they showed a little more of the actual concert. It’s a 3/5 for me.
The Tragically Hip
Thanks for reading! Please check out Kevin’s take!