Vermillion Lies at Edwardian Ball weekend 

With a name like Vermillion Lies, one can’t help but wonder what Zoe and Kim Boekbinder, the sister cabaret duo behind the twisted folk outfit, were thinking about when they arrived at the name.

Choosing a band name, after all, is a serious endeavor and hardly a game. Well, that’s not how the siblings saw it — the two actually devised a sport of sorts to find just the right moniker for their musical efforts.

"We were each thinking of a name and were making lists for months," says Kim. "Then, we sort of made up this game. Each of us went away and thought of a really good word or a word that we were obsessed with; Zoe came back with "vermillion" and I came back with "lies" and we stuck them together and that’s how we got the name."

While Vermillion Lies wasn’t necessarily the only handle the Oakland-based sister act entertained — the two toyed with the idea of using Scarlet Fever or Circus Apocalypse (now the name of a song) — it’s certainly the one that stuck.

Equal parts dark and silly — characteristics the band admittedly shares with macabre artiste Edward Gorey — Vermillion Lies performs at 8 p.m. Sunday as part of the second annual "Sunday Gorey Sunday" this weekend along with Vau de Vire Society, Vima Burlesque and the Eric McFadden Orchestra. The Sunday night variety show of music, dance, stories, fashion and cabaret marks the finale of the three-day Edwardian fête at the Great American Music Hall. Now in its eighth year, the Edwardian Ball weekend has become a staple of San Francisco culture with its elaborate costumed revelry of Gorey-inspired doom and gloom.

Although the Boekbinders missed out on last year’s party, the gals are certainly eager to be on board this time around. Known for having outlandish live shows that feature rather unconventional instrument choices pulled straight from a trunk — barbecue grill, anyone? — Vermillion Lies is more than ready to make merry in the name of Gorey with its own morose-meets-goofy thrift store cabaret spin on things.

"In his life, he was an iconoclast and an incredibly creative individual who pushed a lot of boundaries," says Kim. "Nowadays, we are so used to seeing his work — there’s Edward Gorey day planners — so it’s not so on the edge anymore. When he first started, he was really out there and that’s definitely worth celebrating."

If you go

Edwardian Ball Weekend 2008

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday through Sunday

Tickets: $18 to $30

Contact: (415) 885-0750 or www.gamh.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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