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This Month's Issue

Dead Man's Bones in Vancouver, BC
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Label: Anti Records

Saying Dead Man's Bones make haunted house music would be too easy. It's eerie Americana. It's Vincent Price narroration. It's the floorboard creaks and rain spatter from an Edgar Allan Poe poem. The auditory equivalent of the machinations of H.P. Lovecraft. It reeks of the strong influence of doo wop, Tom Waits, Lenord Cohen, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr. (even if those names are just the people who influenced the musicians who influienced them). There was something that also screamed James Brown about the whole act. Maybe it was the double drum sets, or the variety show vibe that the Godfather of Soul's concerts had in his twilight years.

The MC for the evenings happenings, the Ghost Cowboy, was something akin to the Crypt Keeper in Tales From the Crypt. He was, as the title suggests, a ghost in a white cowboy hat. As Dead Man's Bones took the stage and grabbed instruments, the Ghost Cowboy sang a tune in a low, rasp. The pallbearer-like attire of the main duo only further added to the carefully built mood. The choir for the tour, the Everybody Loves Ghosts Choir, was not the one you've seen in the videos. They were a group of ten pre-teen girls and one boy, and their singing and antics heightened the creepy factor tenfold. They were all dressed up as ghosts for this date and even though the costumes and make-up were simple, they were effective. There was also one singer that wasn't in the choir and was a grown woman, I believe her name was Andy Jay. She belted out some powerful vocals and even pulled out a flute for a couple songs.

My Body Is A Zombie For You was one of the first songs I heard from Dead Man's Bones and as much as I enjoyed it then, seeing it live was an experience. The energy of the kids and the build-up to the chorus had me movin' without even thinking about it. Pa Pa Power was easily their most dancable track and it sent an electricity through the crowd. At one point I turned to my friend and said, these guys could have done the entire Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Then they proceeded to do a cover of Bang Bang where one of their ghostly choir, Miss Jane, stepped out for breathy solo that brought the house down. At the end of the set they announced that they didn't really know how encores worked and would just go ahead and play the only three songs they had left. Probably their most well known song, Name In Stone, was first up and by the time the tamborine kicked in, I was singing along, bopping my head. They closed with a song I didn't catch the name of but it involved a ghost ship and they got a good percentage of the crowd singing the hook. I don't think anybody walked away from that show anything less than entertained and a little in awe.

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