By Tom Beedham
Lido Pimienta might have played The Garrison back in November for All Toronto’s Parties, but the singer’s live gigs are never doubles of themselves. While that show saw Pimienta poised and performing in more of a headliner capacity, resulting in an invitation to the crowd to start an onstage dance party and Pimienta herself taking a stage dive, the much earlier scheduled Wavelength gig was more about theatrics than vibe dissemination.
Bringing friends and frequent visual collaborators Tough Guy Mountain onstage to decorate the environment with an upside-down Canadian flag, streamers, and the satirical visual brand experiment’s members themselves to provide some lackadaisical Canadian flag waving, at the top of her set Pimienta strolled onto the stage in a trapper hat and red sweater bearing Canada’s trademarked logo, and then—posing as if to sing read lyrics off of her cellphone—Pimienta delivered her own spin on the national anthem, “O KKK Canada.”
Frequently outspoken at concerts, Pimienta will often break to give rants about social and cultural issues, including Stephen Harper’s control over the Canadian government. For the most part, this performance was void of such digressions, no doubt to let the opening skit speak for itself.
It’s not the first time the musician has juxtaposed the country’s name with that of the infamous hate group. Pimienta has made passing remarks about it at previous concerts, and recently tweeted it in a message turning followers on to a CTV news broadcast about a woman, her children, and others who were removed from a Harper visit to Blood Tribe (an Alberta First Nation 200 kilometres south of Calgary) for “tweeting” remarks that were critical of the prime minister’s agenda: to discuss the First Nations Education Act, a controversial new legislation that detractors complain resulted from insufficient consultation with First Nations themselves.
“KKKANADA,” the tweet began, going on to link to the YouTube video in question. “SHAME ON @PrimeMinisterH EVIL REGIME KKKANADA – Our home ON Native Land!”
The rest of the show was more about the music, although Pimienta did break to opine on “dick pics” at one point. But regardless of your position on the separation of Concert & State, the politicking Pimienta does at her Toronto shows is essential to her project. Although frequently gigging in front of white, English-speaking crowds, born in Barranquilla, Colombia, when Pimienta performs she sings entirely in Spanish. The English spoken political asides provide context and (to a degree) protect her music from exoticization. And so it goes to follow that at the very least, paying attention to the banter and respecting it at the same time that you enjoy her music is to get the full listener’s experience. It will not only make you want to move in revolutionary ways, but also make you a better person.
Originally published by Aesthetic Magazine.