Tragically Hip fans frustrated again by ticket sale

Members of The Tragically Hip (left to right) Gord Sinclair, Paul Langlois, Gord Downie, Johnny Fay and Rob Baker are shown in a handout photo.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Clemens Rikken

TORONTO - Tragically Hip fans may have expected disappointment, but for many who couldn't buy concert tickets on Friday the sting was still sharp.

Summer tour dates for the Hip sold out almost as quickly as they went on sale. That left many longtime supporters facing the possibility of missing what's widely expected to be the band's final series of shows.

That is, unless they're willing to fork over hundreds of dollars, either to resellers looking for a quick buck or to Ticketmaster for "platinum" seats.

"So did literally no one get Tragically Hip tickets??" asked user Ali Neil on Twitter, echoing the sentiment of others on social media who logged onto ticketing websites and were quickly met with rejection.

Some expressed suspicion over the many tickets that were seemingly bought by resellers hoping to capitalize on the intense interest. Thousands of tickets were listed on secondary websites like StubHub at marked-up prices within a few hours of the public sale.

"Hope the scalpers have a great time at the Tragically Hip shows!" tweeted user David Kennedy shortly after tickets sold out.

As of late Friday, Ticketmaster was also still offering platinum seats for several shows, with prices ranging between $650 and $1,150 a ticket depending on the city.

This tour is widely expected to be the final one for the iconic Canadian band, given lead singer Gord Downie's battle with incurable brain cancer.

That has created an insatiable appetite for seats — and a big pay day for resellers.

Over the past decade, scalpers have increasingly used software programs to bombard the Ticketmaster website with requests and lock in tickets faster than average consumers can click.

The problem has frustrated music fans and captured the attention of government officials in the United States and the United Kingdom, who launched investigations into the ticket resale market. Ontario's attorney general Madeleine Meilleur says she may look into why Hip fans couldn't buy tickets as well.

Not everyone walked away dejected from the Hip sale. Many fans who chose the old-fashioned approach — lining up at ticket booths outside the venues — seemed to find success.

Jessica Lambert, a London, Ont., resident, pulled up at Budweiser Gardens in the wee hours to join about 20 people who started lining up Wednesday night.

One man brought a guitar to entertain the group with classic Hip tracks while the hours passed. Lambert estimates that by the time the ticket booth opened the crowd had grown to about 100 fans.

"We were one of the last ones to get tickets," she said, estimating that they sold out within 20 minutes.

Emily Plunkett was one of the fortunate ones who began waiting outside the ticket booth at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa around 4:30 a.m.

"I didn't want to go too early because I didn't know if anybody was going to be there," she said.

"As soon as I got there I joined a little crowd that had formed. We were all lounging, listening to the Hip and watching the sun come up — it was great."

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