THE HIDDEN CAMERAS with DEEP DARK UNITED opening for ROYAL CITY at Lee's Palace, December 14. Tickets: $9. Attendance: 450. Rating: NNNN
after the amateurish, occasionally profound but often infuriating blurt rock of Deep Dark United, for which seven people crammed onstage and did everything possible to avoid playing with each other in favour of creating their own pool of noise, stuffing even more musicians onto the cramped Lee's Palace stage seemed like a bad idea.There was a real sense of anticipation for Toronto soft rock orchestra the Hidden Cameras, though. The dance floor was jammed 20 minutes before the band even started playing.
In theory, the Hidden Cameras shouldn't work. Fronted by a Morrissey look-alike complete with black-rimmed glasses and a practised pout, the band also features an overhead projector and as many as 10 people playing guitars, xylophones and percussion and simply cheerleading through impossibly titled ditties like Ode To Self-Publishing, Fear Of Zine Failure.
As it turned out, the remarkable interaction onstage went well beyond the coordinated dance steps they taught the crowd. The Hidden Cameras' subdued pop was as intimate as the hushed set by Royal City that followed, except the big band came with all the energy of a Baptist church revival session, matching jangle pop with rattling tambourines.
Belle & Sebastian is the obvious comparison, but even the Scottish softies don't have balaclava-wearing go-go dancers supporting them who strip down to their undies. What should have been a novelty turned out to be a feel-good gem and proof that a stage full of people doesn't have to sound like mud.
The Hidden Cameras play Clinton's Saturday (December 22).