IF YOU'VE HEARD ANYTHING about Joel Gibb and his theatrical pop group the Hidden Cameras, it's likely that the description included something about sex and sexuality. Mainly, that's because Gibb is gay and he likes to write about sexual experiences in verse. And that has become the defining aspect of the Hidden Cameras, which is a bit unfortunate, being that there's much more to the Toronto group than sex and sexuality. But Gibb understands. "I see why people talk about it that way," he says by phone from the tour van. "My songs depict sexuality in a very real way, but it's not taken into context with everything else."
Everything else being that he's a regular guy who experiences the same frustrations, confusions, and heartbreaks as everyone else—he's just a bit more explicit in his sonic admissions. "My songs are sometimes graphic and explicit," he concedes. "But there's more to them than just that."
Indeed. Journalists tend to bank on shock value, so it's no wonder the sex factor has been so highlighted. Problem is, this leaves the true and outstanding worth of Gibb's pop gems hidden somewhere backstage where they hardly belong.
Gibbs' songs are made of tinkering melodies, tambourine shimmers, tap-tap beats, and happy folk string arrangements—a combination so loveable, it can't be denied. The Hidden Cameras have released three studio albums, 2004's Mississauga Goddam being the most critically acclaimed and this year's Awoo, the most recent. Both are excellent fun.
And brought to the stage, alongside a group of performance artists (go-go dancers, strippers, and other musicians, depending on the stop), the dynamic, beautifully textured songs seem to take on higher, richer meaning like proclamations of love from a clapping church choir. "I've always believed live shows are about more than just the music," Gibb said. "The moving at live shows gives you adrenaline—and the combination is very healing."
Just like sex and love—one feels empty without the other. And Gibb's songs wouldn't be complete without both. You see, there's a lot more to the Hidden Cameras than golden showers and enemas, honestly.