More Tragically Hip Ticket Outrage: Read What Fans Are Saying About This Fiasco

The reaction to yesterday’s article (“Something Really Stinks About the Presale for the Tragically Hip Tour“) continued overnight and into today. Here’s the latest round of venting.


Today isn’t going any better. As soon as 10:02 am, I was getting “Sorry” messages.” See?


Hip presale fiasco


Hey Alan,

Thanks for all your thoughtful dialogue and fact digging regarding this Hip ticket disappointment. I think many people are infuriated because (in a way) they feel they are being denied access to see a sick friend. The BBC article got it right when it described The Hip as a “secret handshake” enjoyed by Canadians abroad. I know this to be a fact because my wife and I mapped our global honeymoon around a few Hip shows. We’ve seen them 60+times.

If you’re interested I waged a minor war with EBay right around the time they gave birth to StubHub. I was infuriated when Radiohead tickets sold out at Molson Amphitheater in 10 seconds. EBay at that time published a disclaimer saying they did not promote and would strictly forbid users from selling tickets above published values, blah, blah blah… So, I emailed EBay and cited dozens of instances where I saw somebody reselling Radiohead tix at inflated prices. I chose ads that featured pictures of the actual tickets where the face value was clearly shown. They wrote back and said: “We don’t determine the value of a ticket. Only the owner of that ticket can determine the true value.” (Yeah right! Like your grandma’s China is priceless to you, but at a garage sale it’s worthless, at the antiques roadshow you could retire on it??!!) I fired back at them: The band, promoter, venue, and the insurer of the event jointly decide the value of that ticket and they make it available at the fair, set, published price to the interested public. Ebay wrote back to me and said basically: Fuck off.  Then, I noticed when I looked again that ALL the ads I had cited to them now had the original ticket values blurred (thereby making all the point of sale prices a mystery(?) and allowing resellers to run roughshod while also relieving themselves from enforcing their own rules.)

I passed all of this on to the good folks at W.A.S.T.E at that time, of course. They diligently tried and tried to intercept some scalping. But, it gets to be like the Generals playing the Globetrotters. I believe they characterized it with thanks as saying they were not adequately armed to fight all the bed bugs. (Or, polite words to that effect.) Ugh!!



Hi Alan, I have an American Express card for the sole purpose of getting “front of the line tickets”, as I go to allot of shows and events.

I tried for any tickets to all the Hip Toronto shows, Hamilton and even Kingston‎ for almost and hour, in various qtys, with no hits PERIOD starting at 10am today.

This is the first time ever that I have not been successful with Amex pre-sale‎ tickets.

Something has to be done about these reselling sites and bots.

If true fans got these tickets, then I have no problem.

I was lucky enough to see the Hip three years ago at a pop up small arena show supporting the Gentleman Husbands in Cobourg, Ontario. If that happens to be the last time I see them, at least I have that awesome experience to remember!

‎You can see the pics on twitter: @pgrat

Keep up the good work!



My experience trying to get Tragically Hip tickets today. Again, no chance. See attached.

Thanks for covering this issue.




Hi Alan,

Saw your tweet asking for Hip ticket selling stories.

Newly added Aug 14th Hip show at ACC is to go on sale on Ticketmaster on May 31st.

As of today, May 30th, tickets already available on this site, ATB Tickets:

I do not understand how this is possible.

Incidentally, I was shut out today on TM despite trying for 30 minutes to get tickets.  Tomorrow is an AMEX presale on TM and hopefully, I will have better luck tomorrow. Otherwise, 3rd time’s the charm on Friday.

And I refuse to buy from resellers that mark up prices. The Hip, and Sunnybrook, won’t see those inflated prices.

So. Irritating.

Anyway – thank you for writing about this today.

Take care,

a live music lover,



What more can be said other than some tech geniuses really need to figure out a way to destroy the bots. How it hasn’t been figured out already is quite baffling.

The saddest part about this whole situation is these event are suppose to be a send off and celebration of life to a Canadian icon that probably won’t be with us for very much longer, yet instead it’s been completely overshadowed by a disgusting fiasco and a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. And anyone who actually pays for inflated scalped tickets because they have to see the band one last time can’t be feeling good attended knowing where their money went – no matter how much they love the band.

Death to all scalpers.



Unlike those MACHINES that snapped up all the Hip tickets, I am indeed entering the verification code below with my two human fingers (yes, I know I don’t type well). Is ANYbody doing something about the ticket sell out by these resell companies? I’m sure you’ve already addressed it, and I’m also quite sure you may too busy a man to answer my question (I’d understand), but some perhaps deeper insight on this issue would be thoroughly appreciated, as I saw your name come up quite a lot in google searches. Any updates? I have no idea why you’re the person I’m asking, but like most people, I’m in complete disarray about the whole ordeal.

Thanks for your radio programs, I will not cease to listen.




I really appreciate that you are bringing this issue to light, there are a large number of upset hip fans across the country.

I logged in around 9:50am and waited…  Searched and searched for tickets until about 10:05.  I decided to check stubhub while another search was running, low and behold what do i see? Over 200 tickets for the sunday show.  Just minutes after the presale opened.

How is it that a presale, that is meant for the fans, we have over 1200 tickets listed in the after market sale?

I assure you these are not ‘fans’ they are just merely jumping on the bandwagon to turn a profit.

Many of the hip fans that I know; who happen to have extra tickets are selling them to other fans at face value just to give them a chance to see the show! In fact the Admin of the hip group on facebook is BANNING any users who try to scalp tickets in the forum.


Hip resale numbers


Hi Alan,

First of all I want to say thanks for your years of great work.

The controversy stirred up on social media today relating to presale tickets for The Hip tour inspired this email. More accurately I should say that the ignorance relating presale tickets for The Hip tour inspired this email.

A little background. I’m 43 and like many Canadians my age a huge fan of The Hip. I remember the day I was on a hockey road trip in Sault Ste Marie in the fall of 1989 when I bought Up to Here and the rest of the guys on the bus made me feel like a softie because it wasn’t Metallica. Imagine how great that bus trip from Sault Ste Marie to Timmins was using my discman listening to Up to Here for the first time. I started going to concerts as early as my parents would let me. From Corey Hart in 1985 (accompanied by my mother), Van Halen in 1986, U2 in 1987…I went to everything I could. As I became an adult this continued. It has not stopped. I ended up living in Winnipeg just before the MTS Centre opened and was lucky enough to experience the official opening night with The Hip and everyone from Audioslave to Wille Nelson as well as the resurrection of the Burton Cummings Theatre and all of the great shows that have been coming through Winnipeg for the last 15 years. All of this history is only to reinforce that I feel like I’ve become an expert at presales and buying tickets.

Today’s presale was fairly typical, contrary to what I’ve seen on social media. The tickets did not sell out instantly. I got 2 floor tickets 9 minutes after it started and my wife had the opportunity to buy 2 tickets in the upper level a few minutes later later she declined hoping to get better seats through one of the other presales or through the public on sale on Friday. I got skunked in trying for tickets for the Friday show in Toronto. I don’t think that there is a conspiracy or that “capitalist pigs” are conspiring to keep me from getting tickets to the show. Simply put, there are a lot of people trying to get tickets.

Clarification of who the ticket resellers like StubHub actually are and what they do is a topic worthy of discussion on social media. Websites like StubHub are simply platforms where anyone who wants to sell a ticket can offer a ticket for sale. StubHub charges a fee for facilitating the transaction and guaranteeing the validity of the sale. There are certainly businesses whose core business is to buy and sell tickets for a profit on websites like StubHub but I don’t think websites like StubHub actually buy and sell tickets themselves. Actual people (or people in charge of businesses who buy and sell tickets) are selling these tickets. Yes, these businesses probably have more sophisticated methods of buying tickets than the rest of us but wouldn’t you expect them to? These “scalpers” are always vilified by fans on days like today. The crazy thing is that exist every day of the year and nobody cares.

The good news is that this problem has a solution. The geniuses in charge of the Pearl Jam presales have created a virtually foolproof system. All of the “real fans” will love it. Presale tickets are only sold to fans who will actually pick them up at the box office the night of the show. Ticket limit is always 2 and ID is required to pick them up. Done deal.

Brian, Cochrane, ON


…..annnnd as expected, at literally 15 seconds after the hour of 10:00, there were “no tickets available” in ANY section, for 2 people.

Hey, Alan

I don’t want to prove my fandom, but if necessary:  I have seen the Hip over 100 times, and have made some of the audience recordings that circulate with permission of the band.  In fact, my friend, concert-buddy and sometime recording “partner” if you will was featured in the Bobcaygeon documentary, has seen over 300 shows, and in the last few years is the main source of all the fan recordings online. And although I have loose relationships (if you can call them relationships) with some of the folks in the Hip camp, I still spent $1300+ on the last tour.  So yes my credentials are legit.

I wrote that preamble because perhaps you would like to discuss what has taken place in the mainstream (read: Ticketmaster) ticket buying scene.  I have not seen this written about from an insider’s point of view (not that I have one), and perhaps you have some input you would like to share, whether via longer-form internet post, podcast, e-mail, or even in person.  I have been trying to get to one of your new “meetup” things but just haven’t been able to make the dates work.

I have heard the following in passing, but it was confirmed to us (my concert friends) last summer at the July 1st show at the Amphitheatre.  Another huge fan and I (50+ shows) had tickets in the 200’s, but when I found out last minute about the By Divine Right reunion show at Harbourfront at the same time, I decided to go to that instead.  I still brought my recording gear into the Amphitheatre, set up next to Brendan Canning who was forced to DJ from the soundboard area, and then left.  Another friend/fan took down my gear for me.  (I’m not sure if that show has made it to the masses yet, but I did pass it along for distribution.)  So my buddy (Jeff is his name) decides to upgrade his ticket to a front-row seat with some other folks.  They are front-row right of center, basically in front of Gord Sinclair.  (I’m sure you know how the Hip array themselves onstage.)  He is always chatty before a show, and starts talking to the guy to his left, who is there with his wife.  “How did you get these tickets?  How many times have you seen the band?  Seen any other shows this tour?  Etc.”  The guy says that he is affiliated with a reseller (don’t want to call him a broker officially since I’m not sure that is what he is), and he actually was the source of Jeff’s ticket, 8 total in the front row, and several other rows of tickets as well.  He tells Jeff straight-up that they receive blocks of tickets from either Ticketmaster or the promoters/venues themselves.

I have also been reading an “ask my anything” type of forum thread started by a ticket broker in the New York area, who said that promoters AND ARTISTS (I assume it’s actually management companies, perhaps with artists completely unaware) give him blocks of tickets, and that it’s just part of their ticket selling strategies.  Perhaps they receive greater than face value from these companies, I don’t know.

Bottom line is that the industry is now trying to squeeze every last dime out of the retail customer.  As I learned in first year marketing many years ago, you can either expand your market share of an existing market, or expand the overall market.  Since they already own 100% of the (first-run sale) market for major venues in the US and Canada, the only remaining option is to expand the market itself.  This may overlap with the first principle, but adding “partner sites” that you in fact own yourself is part of this strategy.  They have expanded the market but they own 100% of that expansion area before it even launches, so…  And since the resale market will exist no matter what, they have now expanded into that area.

What I really wanted to discuss with you is your knowledge of these practices.  Do you know how many blocks of tickets are normally sold/allotted in advance for shows at the ACC and Amphitheatre?  Does Live Nation participate in this practice, or is it strictly Ticketmaster Canada?  How long has this been going on, and have there been any rumblings at all about stopping it?  (Political noise, statements from law enforcement, etc.)

I know that for the recent Pearl Jam show, they sold most of the good seats through the Ten Club.  Checking online showed almost ZERO (literally) tickets on the floor for resale.  I know that the Hip’s fan club is that in name only – it doesn’t exist otherwise.  I expected everyone to receive equal chances for tickets, because that happened as recently as the last tour.  Even in my Amphitheatre example, every one of us hardcore fans could buy a ticket legitimately if we wanted to.  This was the first series of Hip shows (not just here in Toronto, but in other major Canadian markets as well) that had blocks of tickets unavailable, then showing up literally five minutes later on StubHub and elsewhere.

In the end, I’m not upset the same way all your commenters are, because I understand what has happened.  It’s not just a “ticketing issue with first day sales”.  The problem goes much deeper.

I’m more upset that this is the first tour that Hip management has outwardly tried to take advantage of fans with Platinum pricing, and that I’ve blown my entire budget on front rows in Kingston – so now I have to starve myself to be able to afford the other five (now six actually) shows in Ontario – of which I was able to purchase zero (0) tickets for.  Good thing my work schedule (and Hillside festival) won’t allow me to fly out West, otherwise I’d be living in a cardboard box for the rest of the summer.

Best regards,



I am in Victoria and had my code ready and my computer and phone ready at 10. First Ticketmaster redirected me to which completely crashed. Just a page with hundreds of Chinese characters. My phone just hung for about 10 minutes. Finally connected. Nothing on either device. Stub hub had dozens of tickets available for hundreds of dollars. I agree, something is fishy.


Hip screen grab


Hey Alan

saw your facebook post..So I was on this morning, right at 10am (in fac,t a few minutes before). Watched the browser refresh at 10am to generate the presale order screen, and what pops up?

“No more tickets are available”…at 10:01am. How do real fans win against the bots? Does this not piss off the band and their management, or could they not care less…?

Help me help you, how do we stop the robots?

Sincerely (a real music fan not looking to make money from bloated ticket sales),



Dear Mr Cross,

I’ve been following the story regarding the Hip ticket situation and was wondering if you’ve ever heard anyone discuss an “auction” section to big-ticket concerts.

If it is scalpers (and maybe Ticketmaster) who is/are reaping the benefits of reselling tickets, wouldn’t it be better if that money went right to the artists? If 15% of a venue was listed as an auction section, then those seats could simply go to the highest bidder. (And then the venue could do all that credit card scanning at the gate and stuff.)

My feeling is if someone can afford to pay $2000 to go to one concert, then good. I’d rather see him pay that much than pay the $166 that someone making $35,000 is shelling out. Relatively speaking, that’d be more fair.

And maybe it’d be better to have that $2000 circulate in society than sit in an affluent person’s bank account doing nothing?

It’s not the same world it was in 1977 when only 17 and 18 year-olds packed Detroit stadium to watch a KISS concert.

So some people can’t afford concerts anymore. Well, households can’t get by on one income, unions are being crushed, and the Conservative premier of Alberta builds herself a palace in the sky.

This is the world we are creating.

You can’t be happy that a house you paid $130,000 for is now worth $800,000, and then be upset that someone else wants to pay $2000 for a concert ticket. It’s all connected. Either we’re in this together or we’re not. Either we say that the payrolls for the Blue Jays and Raptors are obscene and ludicrous by not attending games or we stop complaining the times the system does not work in our favour. We’re all happy when we know someone at a radio station or newspaper or wherever when they call to tell us that they’ve got a spare ticket to a game or show.

Just because it’s suddenly important to a “fan” that he see a show doesn’t really mean anything.  I saw Gord Downie and the Sadies play a show on their tour 2 years ago. It was General Admission, tickets were $25 (seriously, they were literally $25!), and there were only 200 people at the venue. And why is a less well-off fan more deserving than one who can afford to pay a premium?

So my suggestion would be to create an AUCTION section for big-ticket shows. That way, the money will theoretically go directly to the artist and real market value will express itself.



Hey Alan;

I was away at the Indy 500 for a few days and got back last night—just really heard about this Hip Ticket debacle this morning.

Ticketmaster are obviously complicit in what is going on.  From tickets showing up on StubHub and other sites almost immediately, to Ticketmaster themselves offering premium seats through their own resale price, something has to change.

For Iron Maiden this past spring, tickets were “paperless”.  You bought on a Credit Card, and you had swipe that credit card at the venue to get in.  This worked not only for Fanclub presale, but also General Public sales.  (the Maiden tickets I offered you for Toronto were Comp tickets, and as such were hard Tickemaster tickets).

For Blink 182, whose Toronto date sold out damn quick, there were FanClub PreSales as well.  Each member received a unique code, and could buy up to 4 tickets for each concert they wanted to attend.  By doing this, it allows some tracking of whose tickets hit the Resale market.

I saw The Hip last fall at Rama, and while I appreciate this being the last Tour, I don’t really want to go.  I know it will be emotional, but for me, too emotional.  I have lost too many friends and loved ones to Cancer, and it is a terrible way to go.  I want my last memory of Gord to be the (apparently) carefree Gord I saw on stage last fall, not the tragic story everyone is clamoring to see…..



Anyone else?

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 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

11 thoughts on “More Tragically Hip Ticket Outrage: Read What Fans Are Saying About This Fiasco

  • So who deserves to get the limited tix? The person with the most money? The person who is most adept at snapping then up online? The person who is the biggest fan? The loudest whiner?

    • Talking about who “deserves” tickets misses the point. It should be a piss ing match between fans, or complaining about the wealthy being afforded them.

      The issue is there is a monopoly partnering with resellers and gouging the consumer.

      Welcome to Canada, where you better get ready to grab your ankles if you want the privilege of consuming any goods or services.

  • Given all the horror stories I’ve read, I’m feeling very fortunate to have been able to get two tickets to the London show. Yes – a ton of fans want to go and each show was certain to sell out, but TM policies that prevent fans from seeing a beloved friend one more time are simply sickening.

  • The Tragically Hip, David Gilmour, Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, Depeche Mode. All these concerts I had either extreme difficulty as a fan getting tickets for or being unable to due to platinum pricing. As much as technology has made it easier to get tickets the old way of physically standing in line would probably still be the best way to do so; allowing true fans could get tickets to a concert. As a bonus think of all the like minded peole you could actually socialize with while waiting for sales wicket to open!

    Gary D.

  • Why cant anyone get numbers? Look into it, do research, like real reporting? As in.. How many presale tickets were actually avaiable? And furthermore, how many people are fanclub members?? What should have happened, and through all this the only mistake the Hip themselves or their management may have made, was that they should have refrained from even telling the fanclub members about the presale until Sunday night when they revealed the password. But people caught wind of the presale, rushed to join the fanclub (i know i spoke of getting a password early and the people i told rushed to find the Hip app) and voila… So keep it all on the downlow. That way the real fans get their shot at their tix, the vultures who just wanted to flip tix dont catch wind of it, hell even the people who run the “bots” cant hijack what they dont know about…

  • A local radio station was announcing the Hip club pre-sale sale code both mornings. Making being a member useless. dj said ” you don’t deserve tickets more than any other fan” .

  • 1) tickets were EASY to get for this event – you just had to hit refresh a few times.

    2) Stubhub isn’t only for scalpers … Even a die-hard fan would be willing to to sell their tickets for a few thousand bucks.

  • Hey Alan. I’ve been following this pretty closely since myself and everyone else at my workplace have been on line right at 10 the past 2 days and not one of us were able to get tickets. The argument that there is no way to prevent these practices of scalpers and Ticketmaster themselves is outright bs. In 2008 my wife and I had the (for me) concert experience of a lifetime when we were able to get tickets for Tom Waits’ Glitter and Doom tour in Colombus, Ohio. This was only possible because of Tom’s complete distaste for Fan gouging and the stipulations imposed for these shows:
    1) There was a STRICT 2 ticket limit per credit card/household.
    2) No ticket was actually issued, either physical or electronic (you received an email notification with instructions)
    3) You had to arrive at the venue with your +1, with the credit card used to purchase the tickets, and with valid photo ID confirming the identity on the card
    4) Venue staff posted outside the venue checked the id, scanned the credit card, and the tickets were printed out on the spot
    5) You were required to immediately enter the venue with absolutely NO in/out privilege – leave the venue, you’re not getting back in
    6) ANY violation of these rules forfeited the tickets with NO REFUND

    So it is possible to block these disgusting practices. I think the problem is clearly one of greed with Ticketmaster playing a central role.

  • This has been a problem for years for all kinds of acts in all kinds of venues but now that it’s “the” Canadian band that all the old white guys like and they can’t get their tickets, something is being said about it. About time.

  • Real fans can and SHOULD insist upon the European way of purchasing; one identification, one ticket, proof at door, with said ID. Tickets are NOT resold without the permission of the venue.
    The performers get paid fairly, the venue too. The customers? Satisfied.

  • in the late 90s shortly after graduation, I caught a Hip show in Orlando at the House of Blues. They were touring in support of Phantom Power and the entire crowd were ex-pat Canadians. It was akin to visiting the Canadian embassy for a night. I felt home again. I waited after the show for hours by their tour bus with a copy of my “Live Between Us” CD. Gord and the band emerged from the backdoor. I approached him awkwardy to sign my copy. He couldn’t have been kinder or more humble. “You’ll want the rest of these guys to sign this” he said to me. “They’re incredible musicians. All of us are the band.” That stuck with me.

    As the Hip prepare for what may be their last shows with Gord, I think about the courage it takes to hold emotionally together in the face of this. For him. For the rest of the band who surely see him as a brother. For his family who have already surely sacrificed much to touring and will need to step back again in these coming months so that his time and energy can be shared with fans. This is grace under fire. Anyone who chooses to profit off of the swan song of a dying man deserves whatever karma will visit.

    In the meantime, this summer, listen to the music on a long winding Canadian highway on a great roadtrip. Bring it to the campsite or the cottage. Invite some friends over to the backyard and immerse in it. Its the most Hip Canadian thing you can possibly do if you truly want to pay hommage.


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