What do you get when you mix rock n’ roll, 12 000 screaming fans, thunder and lightning? ….Give up? You get this weekend’s Rock the Shores festival at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre. This show featured the essence and span of amazing Canadian rock, bringing together upcoming Jets Overhead, internationally recognized Current Swell, juno-award winning Sam Roberts Band and legends The Tragically Hip. Thousands biked, drove and bused to the West Shore and little did everyone know, they were getting two shows that night. Mid-way through Sam Roberts Band’s set came an announcement, the band was leaving the stage due to a lightning warning.
As they lowered the side stage LCD screens the lightning and thunder surrounded us. The clouds, moved so fast they looked like upside-down ocean waves and tornado-like funnels in the sky (check out this shot on facebook https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150949336088434&set=o.273812799366802&type=1&theater) . And, just like with every wail of the guitar, with every flash of lightning the audience turned and cheered. There was even a spontaneous break-out of “Oh Canada” that could be heard amongst the booming thunder as the fans sang while they waited for the storm to pass.
Eventually, the storm moved far enough away to allow the Hip to take the stage (unfortunately Sam Roberts did not return, nor did he have the impromptu duet with Gord that I was hoping for). The Hip then put on an amazingly entertaining show. Gord Downie, the lead singer, has a unique and compelling presence on stage. From his dancing to his relationship with his microphone to his seemingly nonsensical talking during musical interludes, it all makes me love him and the hip even more. At one point he kept on repeating the words “Victoria-Thunder and Lightning, Victoria – Thunder and Lightning” as if cryptically saying “What is this? There is never any thunder and lightning in Victoria” and then seamlessly he picked up the chorus of the song again.
They played so many of their great hits from “Poets” (1st Hip song I ever heard!) to “Courage” to “In View” to “My Music at Work” to “New Orleans is Sinking” to “Little Bones”. There is great video posted here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7Yq65u50vw) of them playing Fiddler’s Green as the lightning shoots off in the background. It was unreal and as the description of the video says, it was like “Mother Nature was part of the lighting crew”. They then played “Ahead by a Century” as the number 100 shone in the background. After 2 hours of rocking the band left only to return for a three-song encore including two of my favourites “Wheat Kings” and “Blow at High Dough”.
I truly think that everyone needs to see The Hip at some point in their lives and despite any complaints about the organization of Rock the Shores, their performance is what made this show worth it for me. I can’t wait to see them again at the Live at Squamish Festival in August.