HIDDEN CAMERAS | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

HIDDEN CAMERAS 

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Led by the flamboyant Joel Gibb--in childhood a troublemaker at fundamentalist Christian summer camps, later a semiotics student--this unwieldy Toronto collective tones down its "gay church folk music" on the recent Awoo (Arts & Crafts). It's less overtly political and less sexually provocative (no songs about drinking piss this time), focusing instead on lush, spontaneous-sounding eruptions of orchestral pop that frame Gibb's angelic but sublimely lusty voice. The lyrics on the band's 2003 album, The Smell of Our Own, were unapologetically raw and dirty, like one of Francis Bacon's suggestive swirls of naked musculature, writhing across a mattress under a bare lightbulb. But the new disc makes me think of Kiki Smith and Richard Tuttle's sculpture Bouquet--an 18-karat gold cast of Smith's tongue, cradled like a reliquary in a flowing length of 19th-century purple silk damask. The group's early preoccupation with gay sexuality and gender politics (their name was lifted from Michel Foucault's Discipline & Punish) has been mostly supplanted, in part by whimsy--there's an enthusiastic jaw-harp breakdown in "She's Gone," the rare HCs song about (yikes) a woman. The Zincs and the Born Ruffians open. a 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $12, $10 in advance.

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