Review: Pantheon by Kids on TV (Hatch at Harbourfront)

Watch for Toronto’s Kids on TV tours in September

Kids on TV are well known in the queer community as a band who plays catchy electropop music with flashy costumes and video projections. Their shows have always been very theatrical, so it’s fitting for them to have been involved with Hatch, an incubator program at Harbourfront that develops multi-disciplinary performances. Pantheon is more of a concert than a play; in fact it is the name of Kids on TV’s upcoming album, and the event at Harbourfront is the beginning of what will become the show they take on tour.

Before each song, one of the Kids introduces it and you learn some great tidbits of trivia from these interludes. The name Pantheon refers to the fact that each of these songs commemorates an historical or fictional figure who figures prominently in the groups’ “personal and collective mythologies.” From Liberace to Dazzler (a B-List superhero from the X-Men series) each character means something significant to at least one member of the band, and they explain it to you in a way that’s frank, informative and often funny.

And of course, most of these figures are appropriately portrayed in very shiny costumes. I have become slightly obsessed with the lack of gold or silver lame in my wardrobe since seeing  Pantheon.

The video projections are also flashy: neon bikes, horror movie heroines and roller skating fight scenes are some of the scenes that they have shot to be music videos for the songs.  There is also a camera onstage and they incorporate live footage mixed into the pre-filmed work. They’ve got two smaller screens on either side of the stage as well as a gigantic one as backdrop, so they have lots of room to play with their projections.

It was also great to see a who’s-who of amazing indie artists join them onstage during the show. One song, “Bobby”, is a collaboration with the fabulous Diamond Rings, and they had a bunch of people including Gentleman Reg and Katie Stelmanis from Austra join them to do some impressive choral work during their last number.

Hatch features works in progress, so the show wasn’t always slick, but “slick” isn’t really a part of the Kids on TV aesthetic anyway. They grew out of the (in)famous Vazaleen parties that Will Munro used to throw and are part of a queer subculture that has no interest in fitting in to heteronormative mainstream ideals.

This is music for people who wear their torn fishnets and smeared makeup with pride on the way home Sunday morning amongst the sideways glances of church goers. Kids on TV are, as they describe, “apocalyptically gay”. I’m looking forward to them doing a tour of this show when the album comes out in September because, while I do love the theatre-going, Kids on TV is an experience that works best when there’s room to dance.


– Pantheon played as a part of the Hatch program at Harbourfront Centre
– It played on May 5th at 8 pm.

Photo Credit to David Hawe