Cameras take a shot of Elixir

A member of the Toronto based Hidden Cameras fiddles with the ambience of the band’s set.
A member of the Toronto based Hidden Cameras fiddles with the ambience of the band’s set.

Concert Review: The Hidden Cameras @ Elixir

A wise man once wrote, “Nobody cares about Electroclash,” and after witnessing Dandi Wind open for the Hidden Cameras on April 14, I can soundly say that I concur.

The show at Elixir in the middle of exam period had all the markings of a completely hip night: a cool wind, a band with mystique and kids clad in super-tight “The Replacements” T-shirts and Castro caps, debating which phase of Morrissey they preferred. Everyone in attendance believed they were present to witness The Hidden Cameras, a Toronto-area band, packing healthy hipster buzz, fresh on the heels of their newest record, Mississauga Goddam. This album garnered them more critical acclaim, but what awaited the audience exceeded expectations. Out of the shadows emerged a tall man with long, greasy blond hair, which would not have looked out of place at a Cryptopsy concert. Clad in cargo khakis and a black T-shirt with a green rib cage on it, he seemed to be channeling Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel. He assumed his position behind his machine—a Korg keyboard—and began to lay down an erratic, fuzz-drenched beat. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Electroclash.

Suddenly, like a bat out of hell, a woman looking like an amalgam of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the cartoon rendering of the Boogie Man from the Ghostbusters cartoons appeared on stage, wearing a black leotard and gold leggings. This was Dandilion Schlase, frontwoman for Dandi Wind.

At first the crowd was apprehensive—after all, what was this strange entity that was aurally assaulting them? Why was this strange woman cavorting like a strung-out Robert Downey Jr? While these questions were not answered, the crowd eventually separated into two camps: those who didn’t understand but were willing to dance anyway, and those who remained solidly perplexed.

Dandi Wind progressed through their set, playing a variety of songs, each one with the woman shrieking and singing over a dirty electro beat. They introduced a variety of secondary instruments into their madness, including a slide whistle and a kazoo. Try as they might however, Dandi Wind could not win over the entire crowd. Schlase drew many comparisons to a poor man’s version of Siouxsie Sioux, combined with Wendy O. Williams and Karen O. The long-haired keyboardist, however, remained a mystery.

Dandi Wind closed out their time on stage by taking out a balloon and announcing that when they worked in a balloon factory in Mexico, this balloon appeared to them and on it was the image of the Virgin Mary. They proceeded to lay down a quirky and loud number which featured the same hair-over-face, complacent stance from the keyboardist, and maniacal high kicks from the banshee-like woman. While their music may not have been received with the same fervor as Dandi Wind projected, they were certainly entertaining.

After a small downtime, The Hidden Cameras took to the stage. Standing seven strong and featuring a violinist, a bassist, a keyboardist, an organist, a drummer, a cellist and a singer/lead guitarist, the band resembled a scaled-down version of Broken Social Scene. Led by Joel Gibb, the Cameras started off their set with a slow rocker and the progressed into a quicker, yet equally groovy and quirky song. Each member of the band added a necessary element to the sound and no one appeared out of place or superfluous. The drummer—the lone female member—was especially talented, driving each song with pulsing drums and stood out, sporting a very Le Tigre-like moustache.

The Cameras paused between songs to welcome the crowd and to humourously thank them for being more appreciative and receptive than their last Kingston audience, which happened to be a gaggle of graduating engineers. The band kept things going at a steady pace and within minutes the dance floor was covered in Chuck Taylors and Smiths shirts, grooving to the eclectic pop rock. The band touched on numbers from their newest album, the aforementioned Mississauga Goddam, including “Doot Doot Ploot” and the infectious-yet-strange “I Want Another Enema.” While the hipsters danced the night away, it was clear that while no one may care about Electroclash, people certainly cared about The Hidden Cameras.

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