Peaches / the Hidden Cameras

Massey Hall, Toronto ON, August 4

Peaches / the Hidden CamerasMassey Hall, Toronto ON, August 4
Photo: Jag Gundu / Massey Hall
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"I bet one thing you never thought you'd do in your whole life was yell 'dick!' really loud in Massey Hall," Peaches told the crowd at the historic Toronto concert hall last night (August 4).
 
She was right, and when the audience responded by gleefully chanting the refrain to horny Rub selection "Dick in the Air," it provided an apt metaphor for the night's distinction; Peaches and fellow Toronto expat Joel Gibb's the Hidden Cameras cut their teeth building up essential Canadian queer culture in a smutty local subterranean scene that involved gigs at porn theatres and DIY digs like Will Munro's infamous Vazaleen parties, so when they returned for a double bill homecoming at a national institution, it felt like a victory in more ways than one.
 
Opening the night with a set that pointed the gaze of Joel Gibb's "gay church folk music" to country waltzes and reflective bluegrass, the Hidden Cameras debuted a new nine-piece configuration that placed pedal steel and a banjo at the fore. With none of the tacky sashes, blindfolds, or balaclava-wearing go-go dancers of former gigs in sight, Joel Gibb stood at the centre of a team wearing buttoned up dress shirts, bolo ties, and cowboy boots, decked out in a shiny golden suit.
 
Rolling out the majority of their upcoming Home on Native Land over the course of an hour with the occasional help of album guests Leslie Feist and Ron Sexsmith, they weren't as defiantly jubilant as the sounds documented on their previous recordings, but their seamless appropriation of a traditionally conservative genre was just as subversive, and when Steven Foster (Omhouse) left his drums and unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a bondage harness, the crowd got a better hint of what was to come.
 
It was all only scratching the surface of the sexually explicit circus Peaches was about to unleash, of course.
 
Walking out to Nina Simone's "Four Women," the lights went up to reveal a cartoonish figure wearing a gnarly mullet, a muscly pink foam breastplate, tights and a giant sparkly cape. Peaches was in the building, and she spent the next hour-and-a-half rewriting its history.
 
Working the crowd into a dancing frenzy while pulling off splits and moonwalking across the stage to set opener "Rub," soon "Vaginoplasty" brought out dancers in the full body labia costumes from the song's video. Variably clothed (sometimes topless) in fetish gear and G-strings, they'd leave and come back throughout the set to mimic sexual acts and lick the sweat from their armpits.

Peaches reunited with Rub collaborator (and former routine regular Bitch Lap Lap herself) Feist on "I Mean Something," and during "Pickles," she waded out into the audience using unused seats like stepping stones that helped her reach her proud parents.
 
It was a feverish community celebration that thrived on explicit, unapologetic sexual liberation, and after two encores (one that had Peaches straddling Joel Gibb on pornographic duet "Close Up"), we all needed a shower.
 
"It's called Toronto the Good, but I know that's bullshit," Peaches said. "It's Toronto the Nasty, right?"
 
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