Thursday, December 07, 2006

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.


mellowlee said...

(im listening to the song right now) *swaying back and forth in my chair*

I really enjoyed your review :) Even tho I wanted to tickle this Joel person until he screams for mercy. Buddy needs to lighten the hell up eh? *G*

I could just picture the space boots and the keyboard girl's antics. and skinny legs made me laugh hard! Thanks Barb :)

michelle said...

I was going to comment on Barbara's review...

Then I read Mellowlee writing about swaying back & forth in her chair.

Music, tickling until one begs for mercy, notes doing a Prozac dance... Barb is the NEW PORNOGRAPHER.

I keep saying this, but I obviously need to get out more.

Anonymous said...

That song is really fun. It has such a simple but very catchy beat that I like Mellowlee found myself dancing in my chair.

Laughed at Eva's response. Aren't kids great! I do not understand people that don't like teenagers. They are just so much fun.

Great, I see I have used the word fun twice in one comment. I seriously need to work on my vocab. I just can't figure out how to fit festooned or diatribe into this!

kees said...

Ooooohhhhh I REALLY want me some silver space cowboy elf boots.

Sounds like a fantastic gig, and the keyboard girls sound superb! Marvellous tune too.

Bless Eva!! Totally agree with Toccata about teenagers. Pisses me off when people go on about how dreadful they are. I used to work in the Post Office - all the teenage customers were ultra polite but a lot of the old women were total witches, really bitchy and nasty.

Ben Heller said...

20 sound engineers. They must have been in severe danger of outnumbering the audience which must have been a shame really.

Isn't it sad when you see a group of musicians putting their heart and soul into a concert when there's only a few to watch.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh Mel, I am picturing you tickling Joel Gibb and it's just not computing - he's a pretty tall and serious dude, it would be hard work.
You could totally take the skinny-legged indie boy though, but he didn't look like he needed too much tickling.
Glad you liked the song! Their music is so damn catchy!

I am the new pornographer?! Yay! Thanks Michelle, and a special thanks to my friend Jimmy Swaggart for coining the phrase...
If you need to get out more, we can arrange that, no problemo.

You have festooned your diatribe with fun, Toccata! Okay, lame effort. My, there is a lot of chair dancing happening here!
I am so in agreement about teenagers. I think they are fantastic and I am constantly amazed at how much more perceptive and intelligent and responsible they are than I was at that age.

Kees, I think silver space cowboy elf boots were made with you in mind. I should have asked indie boy where he got his.
Yes, I actually find myself getting grumpier and ruder sometimes as I age. Teeanagers always surprise and delight me.

It is a little disheartening to see a small turnout, Ben. Now sometimes a small crowd can make up for numbers with sheer enthusiasm, but this crowd was a little on the mild side.

Allison said...

Skinny legs even by indie boy standard...they must have been tiny.

One of the reasons I stopped watching music interviews (I still love reading print) was an extremely negative reaction I always got from Metric. I know its different from in person, but they just soiled it for me, and I love their music too much to be thinking about that when I'm watching them.

Yeah for keyboard girls! Keyboards and tambourines make life so much better. Too bad they couldn't also be used to make more people magically appear. Glad you had fun though!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I know exactly what you mean, Allison. There are some musicians who are just such a joy to see interviewed and they are generally the kind of person you would want to befriend but others, not so much in the personality department, which does not take anything away from the music, but it's still better to bypass those interviews.
Keyboards, tambourines, and handclaps all make life better.

Ruhee said...


Those boys are so awesome! They play with the Adorables sometimes. The wee skinny guy, Luke, does some solo stuff as Skeleton (Me) as well. I know Mitch (the guy with a lot of hair) the best; he practised with us before our Palais Royale show. They are so awesome.

And I believe that wee keyboardist is our dear LAURA BARRETT! Who is also coincidentally an Adorable. I do believe we're taking over the world. She has the most amazing solo kalimba stuff (I think I gave you some of it?) and also sings and plays keys and clarinet with us. She's toured with and opened for the Hidden Cameras before. Whattagirl.


John Mutford said...

The skinny legs comment made me picture a popsicle.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Ruhee, you are so part of the scene now, it's not even funny! I forgot that you said that you guys hang with Born Ruffians. They were enjoyable to watch and they came up and played a song with Hidden Cameras too. Mitch got to play a tambourine with all the girls.
Robot Ponies! So that was Laura Barrett, no wonder she was so adorable - she IS an Adorable. Truly.

Yes, John! A popsicle is an excellent analogy. Popsicle boy.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow - sounds like a fun time - I think Eva must be the luckiest, happiest-childhood-having-kid ever. I wish I could see those silver elf-boots - remember it's not nice to tease a reader who has a serious shoe thing going on. I like the sound of that song, too - it's kind of jolly - and the spanish horns are always a nice touch.

phlegmfatale said...

OH, I kept thinking he was saying "like a cockroach in space"

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You should hear some of the lyrics that I hear inside my head sometime, Phlegmfatale! So I totally understand the cockroach in space lyrics.

You would have loved that lad's boots! They were an astonishing sight, indeed.
And with Eva and I, it's mutual, we both get to go to concerts with our buddy.