I am now a big fan of Vermillion Lies

I normally don't post non-humor stuff to this blog, but I had such a good time at the opening night of the Indianapolis Fringe Festival, I had to tell everyone about it.

(This review originally appeared on Smaller Indiana.)

Vermillion Lies is what you would get if Tom Waits and Tom Ze formed a cabaret duo. And were women. And sisters. And one of them sounded liked Billie Holiday.

I got to see Zoë (the Billie Holiday soundalike) and Kim Vermillion, the two sisters from Oakland, on opening night at the Indy Fringe Festival's outdoor stage. (That's Zoë on the right, in the red dress.)

If I were on the music/art fringe scene on the west coast, I'd have something really clever to say about juxtapositions of styles and modern retro cabaret. But I'm from Indiana, so all I can say is wow.

Wow wow wow wow WOW!

I've been a music reviewer for over seven years, with a special place in my heart for female acoustic singer-songwriters. A woman, her guitar, and some emotional angst, and I'm set for the evening.

But Vermillion Lies opened my eyes to things I've been missing, like arty cabaret music. I've always thought of cabaret as people in velvet smoking jackets singing old French songs, but I never knew it could be like this.

They still wear velvet though.

"They call it Junkstore Cabaret," said Dakota Belle Witt, tour manager for Vermillion Lies. Apparently they do it very well, whatever it's called. (That's Dakota in the photo.)

"They've played in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Caesar's Palace," Dakota said.

"Moscow, Idaho?" I asked.

"Moscow, Russia," Dakota said.


The three women have just kicked off a four month tour in support of their sisters' new album, "What's In the Box?"

It's the same question the audience was supposed to shout out whenever Kim opened her Big Box o' Props and pulled out different musical instruments, including a toy drum, kids' musical bells, and a marionette.

Kim played the marionette – a little Mexican guy – on the song "Blue." She also played the kids' bells, picking them up and setting them down, matching Zoë's increasing speed on guitar. This song is Zoë at her Billie Holiday-est, and is alone worth the cost of the CD.

And while "Blue" is one of my favorite songs on "What's In the Box?" my favorite song of the night was "The Astronomer." Never have I thought about – or been turned on by – the solar system in quite that way before.

Have I said wow yet? I feel like Kevin Costner in Madonna's "Truth or Dare," when he said her show was "neat."

I also had a great time talking with the three women, and was disappointed to hear they were only there for the night. They were leaving for Madison, Wisconsin the next day.

But wait! It got better. I bumped into Pauline Moffat, executive director of the Indianapolis Fringe Festioval, the next day and she said that not only was Vermillion Lies planning on being one of the Fringe shows next year, they were going to play on Sunday night.

I got back to the outdoor stage in plenty of time to see the group perform a short set, including one of my favorite tracks, Blue. Awesome as always

If you're in Indianapolis during the last week of August, and around for Indy Fringe, be sure to check out their show.

You'll thank me later.