If Tim Burton, Dean Koontz and the Cheshire Cat were to jointly plan a visit to Fort Lauderdale, they would most likely attend during a Viva le Vox show. An evening listening to the music of these four band mates makes one ponder if someone should be calling Mobile Crisis. Surely, these men with self injurious black eyes and bizarre dress have escaped a locked inpatient unit at Broward General.
On a whimsical stage set with Halloween-esque lights, candles and other ghoulish stage props, a very large band member who goes by the name Paultergeist made eye contact with me. His face contorted to a ghastly grimace as he unhurriedly mouthed the words, “stop staring at me.” Sure, I was a little nervous but as a local psychologist, I’ve certainly witnessed paranoid schizophrenia at its finest.
Viva le Vox’s music has a sort of sneak-up-behind you anxiety feel. With anarchic sounds resembling a medley of skiffle and ragtime on psychotropic meds. Early in the set, Viva le Vox’s frontman, Tony Bones, introduces a song by boldly asserting, “This song is about heroin.” Scarecrow Jenkins – a Jesus meets Lucifer type of gentleman – begins to sob and then rapidly cycles to a more elated mood which arouses him to thrash his tongue at a baffling speed. His red feather boa flares as he almost literally makes love to his stand-up bass. A devoted fan offers a dollar to one of the band members to which he responds,”only nine more of these and I can buy some crack.”
As the show went on, I became concerned for the safety of others when Paultergeist points to the crowd with a metal washboard tied around his neck and yells, “I’m going to kill you all.” Perhaps punitively, lead singer Tony hacks the largest collection of nasal mucous that I have ever seen directly into Paultergeist’s eye. These disturbing behaviors took place during the not-so uplifting lyrics of “better off dead” – which Tony explained is what his mother used to say to him when he was a child. Despite the suicidal and homicidal ideations, I found myself bopping to the rebellious beats of drummer Antoine Dukes as he visibly attended to stimuli that you and I could not see.
Viva le Vox raises the curious question: Are they really insane, or are they the pinnacle example of stage presence? Not knowing the answer to this uncertainty makes watching Viva le Vox even more captivating.