Toronto-based, queer-identifed band, the Hidden Cameras, rocks
The Hidden Cameras
graced the stage at Cat's Cradle this past October. Photo by
By Brice McGowen
“The man that I am with my
man/ pulled poked and probed/ His tongue licks my armpits and chest/
Warm, red, salt and wet.” The Hidden Cameras are anything but
squeamish, and they’ve left their mark on Chapel Hill after
performing at Cat’s Cradle in late October.
The Toronto-based group,
which has evolved around singer songwriter Joel Gibb, has earned a
reputation in part for its theatrical live shows boasting tales of
scantily clad blindfolded dancers and rolls of toilet paper flying.
The band continues to develop its unlikely aesthetic with a recently
released third album “Mississauga Goddam.”
The songs skitter into
life and build up tempo to finally explode into take-off upon Gibb’s
shimmering, nasal voice. You’ll discover your body bouncing in time
to handclaps and your arms pumping away go-go-style before you
realize what hit you.
beneath the upbeat sheen and theatrical flourish of the Hidden
Camera’s music are lyrics that are always queer, and often
aggressively explicit. This contrast between light and dark,
innocence and underbelly has earned the group the title of the
Canadian Belle & Sebastian.
The first track of the
2003’s critically acclaimed album, The Smell of Our Own, is an
elegant ode to sexual fetish. “Golden Streams” soars with angelic
vocals projected atop layers of tinkling harmony and organ.
The overall aesthetic is
strikingly religious. Indeed, the group makes frequent reference to
religious ritual and develops its own child-like iconography. Songs
like “In the Union of Wine” reach feverish climaxes of gay pop
gospel energy. “That’s When the Ceremony Starts” is a barrage of
sensual imagery, narrating a tale of male homosexual body worship
with the reverence of a sacred rite.
Critics have accused the
Hidden Cameras of peddling shock value; some say the use of gay
sexual (and scatological) imagery is gimmicky. Gibb retorts that
being specifically gay doesn’t reduce his music to gimmick. He
contends that people simply aren’t used to queer music.
Whatever the opinion, the
Hidden Cameras are certainly one of the most intriguing new bands to
pass through Chapel Hill.