Blocks of New Tragically Hip Tickets Went Up for Grabs Today. We Should Have Seen This Coming. Here’s Why.

Mark is a concert ticket ninja. Working with just the tools available to any regular person, he seems to be able to buy tickets at face value to almost any show he chooses. Maybe that’s because he studies how tickets are sold and released to the public. On the weekend, he sent me this email:

I had an idea and did a little digging. Guess what I found? Up to forty thousand unsold Hip tickets. (Preface: This comes from somebody who got in to see Kate Bush not just once, but twice.)

In all the times I have seen The Hip on the arena circuit I have noticed that not one time have they sold ALL the seats in the rink. This time is no different. Most arena level acts, as you know, make tickets available all the way to nose bleeding heights above and behind the stage. But, not The Hip. I looked at the seat map for every stop on their upcoming tour. And I noticed that there are complete sections of close-up unsold seats (2000?) right behind the band’s back.

Then I got out the calculator.

 I actually counted the open seats aisle by aisle and applied the math. For the Air Canada centre shows alone, there are hundreds of unsold seats in the lower bowl alone hiding right in plain sight behind the stage for each night!   Calgary? Same. Edmonton? Same. Even the relatively tiny K-Rock centre in Kingston? Same.

I gathered and interpreted all my info from Ticketmaster maps of the various venues. One map of the ACC says this event is a 360-degree configuration. Another map shows seats shaded out.  All the other venue maps show seats behind the stage as unavailable. I just wondered why any seat would go empty at any venue? Like I said, maybe the band/promoter/management already has a plan. Seems like such an easy thing to salvage unsold seats when demand is so high. Maybe they could still be delivered to some of the thousands of frustrated fans after all.

The Hip aren’t known to have semi trucks filled with staging following them around. So, I don’t imagine it’s a matter of sight lines or obstructed views. Maybe they just don’t like to play with their back turned to anybody. There is no way to positively know. And it’s strictly the band’s respected private business anyway.

There are a lot of folks swinging for the fences to fight back against this shitty ticket bot debacle. BIG show at Downsview. BIG CBC broadcast. Massive plan for Mississauga. Imagine costs, hazards, liabilities, logistics, risks and above all else; any unreasonable expectations of the band to perform in this time of tender turmoil.

Sometimes you win a game with a well placed, unexpected bunt.

Now, imagine what a relief it would be to fans, and what a HUGE Fuck you bird flip it would be to the scalping community if the promoter could harness and control these unsold seats directly into the hands of the fans? A few thousand tickets a night is a manageable amount to police away from profiteers. And, The Hip have employed lots of imaginative mastery in thwarting ticket flipping in the past. (I recall a show where my pass to get in was a Polaroid picture.)

Forty thousand seats with no extra shows added. No undue expectations of anyone. Just a slightly more careful firing of the starter pistol to begin the race to get them. To be on the inside listening live and to get one knowing nod over the shoulder from the guys to indicate that they’re glad we got in would mean the world to the zillions of disappointed Hip zealots who prayed for a second chance… And got it.

I think the promoter probably already has a plan. But, so long as politicians are making big swinging suggestions; I’m bunting this one on the field as a fan.

Well, guess what? Ninja Mark was close to being bang on. In a message on its Facebook page, the Hip says that they’ve modified their stage design which opened up more seats. Let’s see how fast these go.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37848 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Blocks of New Tragically Hip Tickets Went Up for Grabs Today. We Should Have Seen This Coming. Here’s Why.

  • Here’s hoping I can get one of the tickets I predicted might materialize.

  • Gone in under 1 minute in Victoria. I was tenth in line… 4 tickets windows and only the first 4 people got tickets.

    A pretty upset crowd was there. Can we go back tot he old days where a block of tickets was reserved for the fans at the arena? Give the true fans a chance to go…. I got super lucky as my brother beat the odds and got a pair online this morning somehow. But the system as it exists is broken.

    How about an IP lock or address check on credit cards so scalpers in Toronto cannot buy Vancouver show tickets and vice versa?


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