Hidden Cameras : Toronto Bloor Street United Church

...they shall conquer all, one balaclava 'n' jockstrap wearing male go-go dancer at a time...

The chic, gay urban yin to the Polyphonic Spree‘s gown-wearing, country-folk hippie yang, The Hidden Cameras have been the knowing Toronto hipster’s band of choice for the last year – to the extent that they can play to 1,200 tonight. But now that the group’s new album ‘The Smell Of Our Own’ is properly available across the pond, their buzz is going global. With a cast of 25 or more led by singer Joel Gibb, this collective create what is sometimes boringly referred to as “gay church folk music”. Think, rather, a man-lovin’ Lambchop. On ecstasy and cheap wine. With songs about piss sex.

As the core quartet (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) begins playing on the church altar, a horde of scantily-clad devotees congregate in the aisles, ingeniously adapting pews into dancing podiums. The Bloor Street acoustics intitially do them few favours, though: Gibb is barely audible during ‘Heavy Flow of Evil’ and ‘A Miracle’. “Thank you for being quiet,” he says. “Now you can be loud, progressively loud”. A cast of choirists, guitarists and gyrating mavericks take their places and from that moment The Hidden Cameras’ sheer energy is unassailable.

Building loveable melodies on top of each other until they threaten to topple over, ‘Even’ resembles Belle and Sebastian if they smiled more, while the audience is encouraged to sing along with uranist anthems ‘Golden Streams’ and ‘Ban Marriage’ by the projection of their lyrics on a curtain at the back.

The Hidden Cameras won tonight. And they shall conquer all, one balaclava ‘n’ jockstrap wearing male go-go dancer at a time.

Jason MacNeil