UK freak-soul wunderkind Ebony Bones is a woman possessed. Last Thursday I caught her intergalactic spectacle at San Francisco’s Popscene where it immediately wrangled me into its dance-inducing Funkadelic voodoo spell à la George Clinton. The wide-eyed songstress pushed onstage looking like a multicolored cartoon superheroine in her leopard-print space suit, purple and pink prosthetic lashes, hot pink tights, green boots, and large golden fro.
Bones’ hour-plus set presented a psychedelic, psychic exorcism of electro-buzz, tribal beats, African punk, and FUN! Backed by two dolled-up singers prone to uncontrolled convulsions, she performed her hits “W.A.R.R.I.O.R.” and “We Know All About U,” along with a crowd-rousing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in The Wall (Part 2).” At one point, unable to find her signature cowbell, Bones exclaimed, “Where the fuck is it?” before erupting into hypnotic, torso-pumping gyrations. Flanked by her backup musicians, she even busted out a little voguing number, which you should witness here.
Also on the bill was fellow UK intercultural phenomenon VV Brown—who mixes rockabilly, ska, R&B, Auto-Tune, gongs, and a cadre of tribal instruments into a rich sonic jambalaya stew. There’s definitely a melting pot of genres brewing in Britain’s multicultural waters that involves fierce identity statements (think M.I.A. and the Noisettes; this fresh dance party is being led by intelligent feminists).
Bones’ debut, Bone of My Bones, is due out in May in America, but she’s already garnered buzz in the States as one of the best new acts at South By Southwest and earned herself a writeup in Rolling Stone. Fashion-wise, some bloggers are calling her the next Lady Gaga—although a black Karen O, or maybe Ari Up from The Slits, is probably more appropriate. In any case, no single narrative can contain—or explain—the mashup appeal of this English wildwoman. In the video below, she makes an entrance at South x Southwest.