Some concerts are just shows. Others are an experience. The Hidden Cameras show at Harbourfront this past Saturday definitely falls into the latter category. Considering the constrictive nature of the seating at Harbourfront, The Hidden Cameras did quite well in energizing the crowd, especially those standing, lining the aisles, some who were initially there just to get out of the rain. But once the mighty 'Cameras got through with them, the aisle of people were giddy with excitement. It was like one big dance party. My friend and I chose some seating in the centre of the venue about ten rows back or so from the stage so I had quite a decent view of the entire show. Most of us in the seating area were quite satisfied to sit down, tap our hands and feet and bob our heads occasionally on faster songs. But then the Hidden Cameras' Joel Gibb encouraged us to stand up and dance, that's when the party really started. [sometimes I need a kick in the pants to get up to dance ;-) ]
This show was the "back to school" edition as Joel Gibb called it, as most of the band, especially the vocal/dance chorus of girls and a couple of guys were in full school uniform garb, albeit casually untucked and carefree. The Hidden Cameras cranked out tunes that at various times had hints of Belle and Sebastian orch-pop, Billy Bragg-sounding guitar pop, and melancholic pop music, with vocals that reminded me of Ben Watt(of Everything But The Girl). The faster, almost punk influenced, numbers like "Music Is My Boyfriend" went over most well with the audience including myself. But when things slowed down like on the melancholic "Mississauga Goddam", you could almost hear a pin drop as the audience gave the band its undivided attention. For Hidden Cameras novices like myself, the group had a slide projector at the right side of the stage which displayed the title(and lyrics?) of each song they performed.
When the masked dancers came onto the stage and started throwing yellow streamers into the audience to introduce "Golden Streams", I doubted some of the audience had any idea what the song was about. That was probably all well and good. The Hidden Cameras played such a joyously poppy fun, and energetic set, that even a heterosexual fan of the show such as myself had no feelings of discomfort towards the more overt homosexual nature of some of their lyrics and or imagery on stage. Much respect to the band for choosing to be themselves and at the same time NOT alienate their audience. Do yourself a favour and check out The Hidden Cameras experience next time around!
ps. One Ring Zero opened up the show. They reminded me of They Might Be Giants, with the accordion and all, as well as the diversity of Nellie Mckay's music. There was a busker-quality to their music, with the drummer choosing to drum what seemed like the side of a suitcase, rather than traditional drums. Oh, and I must mention the theremin. Cool. Even Canadian author Margaret Atwood was a special guest of the band and played theremin as well on a couple of songs. Her appearance went over well with the audience. My friend and I only caught about half the set but I'm glad to have caught Ms. Atwood's appearance. The band's a little too technically proficient for my taste and I'm wondering if this were a band of attractive females[like Nellie Mckay] would I have liked them better. Nonetheless, interesting band.