Rock ’n’ Roll 101 lesson: when “the greatest live band you’ve never heard of” plays a club as small as the Avalon, you gotta check it out. White flags with red maple leaves and an impromptu “O Canada” sing-along let everyone know – if they didn’t already – that this is one of the most popular rock bands out of Canada, consistently topping Canadian charts throughout their substantial 20-year history.

Lead singer Gord Downie, guitarists Rob Baker and Paul Langlois, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay played tenacious arena-sized music for the thousand or so fans in attendance. Loud and involved, the crowd showed appreciation for Baker’s steel guitar on the opening “Vaccination Scar.” This song, like many from the set, is featured on the band’s latest disc, In Between Evolution. The new material from The Hip owes itself less to the great White North and more to the bluesy vibe of New Orleans.

Undoubtedly, it was the dominating vocals and frenetic theatrics of front man “Gordie” that had fans mesmerized for more than two hours through a second encore. The puddles of sweat Downie left onstage served as a useful measuring tool for the astonishing amount of energy he exuded. O Canada!