Skip to main content

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.


  1. Wow really does describe it. The most fun I have had at a show in a while. Combined with Amanda Palmer and the intimate setting, priceless.



Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am accepting comments from people with Google accounts to cut down on spam.
Otherwise, spam comments will be deleted with malicious glee.

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide


Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…