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The trouble with the Henhouse

The moral of this story is: Listen to your mother, she really does know best. I went to my first Hip show with my younger brother on December 12, 1996 in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens. Our tickets were a gift from our aunt and we were supposed to be sitting beside our older cousin in red seats at the Gardens. Moments before my parents were to take us to the show, my mother reminded me and my brother that if we brought a canned good to the show we could get a raffle ticket to upgrade our seats. I laughed it off as if the chance of winning that raffle was less likely than a large asteroid striking the planet. Nevertheless, we took the canned goods. We entered the Gardens from the Church St. entrance (not the main entrance on Carlton St. - for those of you who know Toronto). They tore our red tickets and let us enter and we attempted to exchange our canned goods for raffle tickets. We were told at that time that the canned goods-raffle ticket exchange could only be done on at the main entrance on Carlton St. and that since our tickets were already torn, they may not let us back in - it\'s not like we could use the canned good in the Gardens - so we plead our case with the ticket collectors on Carlton St., we exchanged our canned goods, got our raffle tickets, entered the Gardens and went to our red seats. Shortly after, and realizing that our cousin was going to be fashionably late, me and my brother decided to venture up to the nose bleed grey seats to visit some other friends who were attending the show. While up in the greys, the P.A. announcer began reading out raffle ticket numbers. Suddenly, the string of numbers were familiar... I saw them before my own eyes on the small one and a half inch ticket in my hand - I checked to make sure that asteroid hadn\'t landed yet - and then, with jitters in my voice, I said something to my brother, like \'Dude... they\'um called my numbers\' to which he probably replied \'Seriously!!?\' We excused ourselves from our friends and ran to the box office. We weren\'t really sure what the upgrade deal really was and since it was my raffle ticket, I went to the box office and my brother reluctantly moped away on his own, back to his red seats. With mixed feelings of elation from winning the ticket, and guilt from sibling abandonment, I went to claim my ticket. When I got to the box office I exchanged my raffle ticket, which was promptly validated, and they gave me a pair of tickets - yes, that\'s right A PAIR! I said to the officer (\'cause I was being escorted by a uniformed officer at this point), \'wait my brother is with me... I didn\'t know it was a pair of tickets...\' I plead with him to let me find my brother, who has disappeared around a corner as he headed back to his seat. They very reluctantly let me get him, but warned that they were leaving to escort raffle winners in only moments. I ran back into the crowd inside the Gardens... screaming my brother\'s name probably as loud as I could and running stupidly like The Flash through the crowd. I caught my brother getting off the escalator at the top - I was at the bottom. I was screaming his name and yelling \'It\'s two! It\'s two! It\'s two tickets, dude!!!\' He ran back down the descending escalator and we got back to the box office just in time for the officer to escort the winners to the seat upgrade. At this point, I really wasn\'t sure why we needed a uniformed officer to escort us. I figure we\'d be move to floor seats somewhere near the middle or front of the rows. Whoa... was I wrong. The officer guided us to the floor seats, and proceeded to walk us to the front rows... but then he kept walking... in front of the front rows. I had no idea where he was going.... we were running out of floor and the geometrically spiky-shaped stage was fast approaching. Where were we going? A steel gate fencing off the stage from a press-like area in front of the stage was opened and we were welcomed to our new vantage point of the show in \"The Henhouse\". We were literally seated (let\'s get real, we never sat down for the whole show), only a meter or so from the stage. We actually leaned our forearms on the stage while the Rheostatics did the opening performance - we could see the beads of sweat on Dave Badini\'s head. I think he gave us his pick or something. This was awesome!!! I never in my wildest mind ever thought I would experience anything like this - nor have I since then. I was wearing a hockey sweater with my family name on the back and people in the crowd who knew me from a summer camp I worked at started calling me and my brother\'s name (maybe my brother was wearing the sweater?). I felt bad for my cousin, who, by the time The Hip showed up, probably thought we had stood him up - this was 1996... no cell phones or texting for us to let him know about our unexpected relocation. In such a whirlwind of fun and emotional elation, we rocked with the band that night while they played all of our favourite songs and I didn\'t get my voice back from all the screaming for about a week or so - but at that point, the Hip experience had become - at least for me - more than something just about the music, it was the beginning of a family of fans and friendship. This feeling of family lasted well out of high school for me and into my University and adult years. From that first show in the Henhouse in 1996, I followed up with nearly 15 more shows that I saw over the course of the following years. I\'ve been on road trips to see The Hip in a zoo in Toledo and I\'ve taken a plane to Halifax to see them on Canada Day at the Citadel, but that night in Toronto... with my brother at my side as I pointed out Bill Barilko\'s banner in the rafters of Maple Leaf Garden...that was my first. I\'m glad I listened to my mother. That\'s my story... ... I\'m stickin\' to it. Michael

Submitted by: Michael Litvack


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