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- Posted on Oct 21st 2009 2:45PM by Joshua Ostroff
Gosling did boast a slight smirk when he took the stage before a sold-out crowd, which included the Canadian actor's mother. The look wasn't from smugness but rather simple acknowledgment of the strangeness of performing after a woman skipping rope with her poodle (a local talent show has taken place on every tour date in place of opening bands). Then a children's choir, dressed in their Halloween finest, emerged to croon along to songs about werewolves, zombies, slow-dancing with ghosts and cemeteries where 'Flowers Grow Out of My Grave.'
This most adorable assortment of ghouls was the choir from the Etobicoke School of the Arts -- a 'Fame'-like academy where members of Broken Social Scene, Metric and Stars once attended -- and this must have been their best treat ever.
On record, Dead Man's Bones used the L.A. Silverlake Conservatory Children's Choir, but on tour the classically-clad pair (in black vests and white button-downs) have had to hook up with a different set of kids in every town, which gave the show the shambolic feel of a dress rehearsal.
Still, the kids' enthusiasm was infectious, especially when they started spontaneously dancing during the upbeat 'In the Room Where You Sleep' or chanting the chorus to the anthemic 'My Body's a Zombie for You.' One little girl even got a solo, singing Nancy Sinatra's 'Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)' and only forgot a few words.
Gosling himself proved to have a surprisingly great baritone singing voice and flitted between piano, drums and guitars while Shields largely stuck to percussion. The two bandmates weren't much better rehearsed than the kids -- they broke into giggles regularly and at one point Gosling sheepishly admitted, "we're new at this" -- but they were having at least as much fun.
Dead Man's Bones' songs themselves are pretty great -- think an even more funeral-obsessed Arcade Fire crossed with Nick Cave and 1950s monster movies -- but the project truly came together as a conceptual performance, pairing the haunted house on a hill painted backdrop, Gothic subject matter and costumed kids with the sheer undiluted joy emanating from everyone onstage.
Perhaps it should be expected that an actor would favour such theatricality, but every indie band not named Flaming Lips would do well to take note of what an innovative live show really looks like.