Hidden Cameras | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hidden Cameras 

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Most bands would feel pigeonholed by a tag like "gay folk church music," but singer and guitarist Joel Gibb, the leader of this Toronto collective, came up with that description himself. Raised a Baptist, he brings the buoyant tent-revival spirit of church sing-alongs to the band's lush arrangements, which sound a little like upbeat Belle & Sebastian--Gibb's clear, strong vocals rest atop strings, horns, hand claps, timpani, harp, glockenspiel, and sometimes even a pipe organ or a small choir. Some of his lyrics are so brazenly homoerotic they'd make Rufus Wainwright blush, but instead of going for shock value alone Gibb infuses them with mischievous and heartfelt spirituality, whether he's singing about "the golden road to heaven" in "Golden Streams" or a messiahlike lover in "The Man That I Am With My Man" (both from 2003's The Smell of Our Own). On last year's Mississauga Goddam (Rough Trade) the production is even grander and the humor is a bit more sophisticated: on "Music Is My Boyfriend" Gibb sings, "I washed his dirty underwear / He made me toast / Music filled my mug with Vaseline / I gave him a choke." At the Empty Bottle in June 2003, the Hidden Cameras were a ten-piece, more or less; the band started out on Western Avenue and snaked through the audience toward the stage in single file, singing, dancing, and playing tambourines and guitars. In case you wanted to sing along, a dancer wearing a diaper and a mask showed slides of the words, which had been photographed projected onto semen-stained bedsheets. The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir opens. Thu 2/17, 10 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10.

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