Welcome to the 17th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming. So be sure to check out her write-up for Bobcaygeon right here!
As for me, this was my first time watching Bobcaygeon and it was not what I was expecting. I knew the story since The Hip performing one of their most popular tunes, Bobcaygeon in the small town of Bobcaygeon was a big story in Canada.
The town of Bobcaygeon, with a population of 2,500, was a relatively obscure part of the Kawartha Lakes area (or what we in Southern Ontario know to be as “cottage country”) until the tune with its namesake became a radio staple in the late ’90s. Since then, there had been a desire from many fans to see the band perform Bobcaygeon in Bobcaygeon. It took a few years, but the dream came true on June 25th, 2011.
I thought the film was of that concert but there are only several songs from the full setlist The Hip performed that evening. Mostly, Bobcaygeon is a documentary on the effort to make Bobcaygeon another Woodstock of sorts, 2011 style.
The show grew to a mini outdoor festival with three other acts performing. Miss Emily would get the ball rolling at noon, followed by The Trews, and Sam Roberts before The Hip would take the stage at dusk. It was a massive undertaking for the town to take on 25,000 concertgoers for an entire day.
The film also spends a generous amount of time with fans talking about the Hip and how the band became a large part of their lives. You got a bootleger with over 200 shows recorded, people who fell in love with each other while listening to their music, and another who had a chance to meet with Gord Downie. This was probably the weakest part of the film for me. Some of their stories are cute and all but I’d rather just have the band on stage performing songs instead.
When the Hip finally do take the stage, 49 minutes in… if I was wearing a hat I’d have had to hold onto it. This was my first time hearing the band properly mixed for 5.1 audio (I opted for the 5.1 mix over the PCM stereo one) uncompressed on a Blu-ray and it was glorious. Mixed to perfection, the band came through like you were watching them on stage. The audio has a brilliant low end with it given plenty of presence. It was great to hear Gord Sinclair’s runs so clearly for a change.
I also love it when a two-guitar band splits their guitars to the left and right speakers. Rob Baker came through the right and Paul Langlois can through on the left just like you are in the crowd watching them on stage. A+ on the audio front.
The limited track selection is mostly the hits you’d expect. Grace, Too, The Hundredth Meridian, 50 Mission Cap, Ahead By A Century… but they just had to include my least favourite song from Now for Plan A (the album they were plugging at the time) We Want to Be It AKA Drip Drip Drip. I can see why they included it because they were getting a nice reaction from the crowd during the drip drip drip part. It had me thinking…
The most compelling part of the film is whenever the camera was given access to some backstage moments. The Hip is notoriously private, so watching them in their bus full of restless energy, moments before they go on stage was a treat to see. We get more after the show as they talk about how they felt the performance went, and they’re already carrying on about what to tweak for the next show. Total pros. They should be congratulating themselves but are asking how they can do better instead.
Bobcaygeon is a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed most of it but the ideal movie would have been to have the full concert with the backstage scenes as bookends to the performance. The making of the music festival itself felt more like what should be a Blu-ray extra to accompany the main event. By the way, the Blu-ray contains no extras. It would have been nice to not only include more of what The Hip performed that evening but the other bands as well. It would have been great to get some of what Sam Roberts and The Trews did that day.
Well, I’m a believer in evaluating what you do have over what you “should have”. With that, for what it is Bobcaygeon is an interesting enough documentary that will give all you need to know about what happened that
night in Toronto day in Bobcaygeon.
Be sure to check out Sarah’s write-up!
Get More Hip from Canadian Grooves!
[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Evolution
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never-Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip