No dancing boys in ski masks, but the keyboard girls more than made up for it.
Tuesday is probably the worst possible night for a concert. That may be why the audience seemed rather flat at the Hidden Cameras / Born Ruffians show the other night.
When Born Ruffians began their set, there was a total of 18 people in the audience (I counted). The rest filed in within a couple of songs, but it was still a rather sparse crowd throughout the night. This did not go unnoticed by the Ruffian’s frontman, who, after thanking us for being there, stated “I closed my eyes for a couple of seconds and when I opened them there were twice as many people here” - artful pause – “Nope, didn’t work that time”.
Born Ruffians had an appealing sound – a little yelpy (but not overly), very freeform, almost scatting at times, full of syncopated and odd rhythms. They were a nicely energetic and enthusiastic band, who had enough variation in their shtick to keep them interesting. The frontman was mesmerizing by the sheer fact that he possessed the skinniest legs I have ever seen, even for an indie boy. Much discussion ensued following the concert on whether or not those legs actually defied the laws of physics. We did enjoy his extreme indieness though, as, skinny legs aside, he also sported a sweater vest plus the most astonishing pair of silver space cowboy elf boots we’ve ever laid eyes upon.
During the break between bands, we were entertained by impromptu displays of pairs of girls practicing dance moves, which broke out among the audience. We quite liked the Irish dancing displays, but thought that the line dancing was sort of out of place.
The neat thing about the Grand Theatre is that, while the band can exit the stage down a staircase, leading presumably to the swanky digs where they hang out, most of the performers chose to leave by walking out through the crowd. Kinnie Starr did this a number of times when she performed here a few months ago, and Born Ruffians did as well (thus giving us ample opportunity to admire those hipster boots). I think maybe it’s the most direct route to the bar. The Grand actually has two bars, very ultracool ones with brick walls and black floors and purple lighting and, as this was an all ages show, they stamp your hand so that you can order a drink, because you actually have to wait in the bar for the doors to the hall to open.
Eva was asked if she wanted her hand stamped. Her response? “I’m underage.” Can you believe the honesty on that kid? I was her age exactly when I first went to a bar, but then again, I wasn’t with my mom.
During the Hidden Cameras’ setup, frontman Joel Gibb stomped by us a few times as we sat on the floor in our usual spot against the side wall. I sincerely hope that I wasn’t being influenced by the negative personal comments that some anonymous person made about him on this blog once, but I did get a rather non-friendly vibe from him. But hell, his band puts on a doozy of a performance and anyway I was there for the music, not to be besty friends with Joel Gibb.
But what a show the Hidden Cameras put on. They are a very theatrical band, albeit without underwear and ski mask clad dancing boys. One of the violinists, the bald-headed one who looked very much like my diesel truck-idling arch-nemesis who lives across the back lane, never stopped dancing the entire set. Well, except for when he was hopping up and down. After the initial shock of (mistaken) recognition wore off, I knew he couldn’t be my neighbour because he smiled constantly, and I’ve never seen the diesel guy smile.
But the two keyboard girls utterly stole the show! When they first took the stage, I thought to myself, what’s that 10-year-old girl doing up there? The one keyboardist was all of 5 feet tall, with long unkempt (but not in an indie way) hair and big dorky wireframe glasses. She was utterly adorable, and she and the other keyboardist hammed their way through the entire set, stepping back from the keyboards to do some synchronized dancing, vogueing, chasing each other and the drummer around stage. And they seemed to connect with the audience the most as well, making small talk, cracking jokes. While he spent most of the set being serious business, even Joel Gibb seemed to warm up toward the end of the show, inviting three people onstage to play tambourines during one song. (I was not one of them).
There were some sound problems at first, which was rather odd, as there were about 20 sound guys wandering around looking all official-like, but after spending a few songs barely being able to hear the words, that got sorted out.
All in all, it was a damn fine way to spend a Tuesday night.