Serge Brideau, outrageous frontman for ECMA winners Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire

Serge Brideau, outrageous frontman for ECMA winners Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire

If fans watching the East Coast Music Awards gala Thursday night weren't already familiar with Moncton group Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire, they sure know them now.

In a show-stopping, jaw-dropping performance, plus two side-splitting acceptance speeches, the outrageous frontman Serge Brideau left his mark on host city Saint John.

He took a shot at internet providers not paying musicians enough for content, mock-thanked "our lord and saviour, Irving," and hoisted Premier Brian Gallant, who was presenting them their trophy for group recording of the year.

All that, in drag.

"A 350-pound man with a beard wearing a dress always puts a smile on your face," said Brideau.

Dressed a lot more conservatively offstage, Brideau explained where the band's name came from, and his political side as well.

"Hilaire is my father," he said. "He's 80 years old this year, and he's a rare guy of his age. A very proud NDPer, a worker, he was a carpenter, he was in the workers' union. He always spoke his mind, all the time, maybe too much some time.

"I feel it's a privilege to be on the stage, and to have a microphone in front of my face. There are some things that are absurd in our economic system, our political system, and if we don't talk about it — we could put our heads in the sand and be Donald Trumps about it and say global warming doesn't exist, but it does, you know."

Breaking bilingually

The group is a smash in Acadie and Quebec, and increasingly popular in English markets.

Anglophones don't have too much trouble getting the politics and the zaniness. 

"Between songs, we speak in English, and we like to make fun, and we like to have fun," Brideau said. "It's a whole show."

Switching back and forth between the serious and the comic is second nature for him.

"I was a paramedic for 16 years in Moncton, and there was always that (comic) side," he said. "I'd work with my partners, and we'd joke a lot, and then you'd go on call and you're serious. I guess it's my personality. Life is short, and you gotta laugh."

Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire have a showcase performance at the ECMAs on Saturday, playing at the Trade and Convention Centre on the UPS Rock Stage, with the doors open at 10:30 p.m.