CocoRosie @ Venue – October 24th 2013

CocoRosie 10

Sweet, spooky and avant-garde, CocoRosie have covered some distance in their decade old musical career. Headed by Sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady, CocoRosie has evolved from recordings in bathrooms of Paris apartments to irregular and exquisite arrangements. Their debut album La Maison de Mon Reve, is a strong and eclectic showcase of abstract folk and pop recordings. Subsequent efforts would expand to higher fidelity recordings and unusual arrangements. CocoRosie’s steady musical output would see the band exploring new territory. Flirtations with electronic pop and hip hop would see CocoRosie evolve from their lo-fi beginnings. The sisters have retained, however, an abstract quality that is seldom equalled. Their sold out performance at Venue was full of theatrics with the sisters fielding an especially strange and fluid wardrobe.

A clothes line draped across the stage held various uniforms, ranging from worn overalls, dresses, and gymnastic outfits to baggy t-shirts. Bianca and Sierra Casady like to play dress-up between songs. Promoting a new album, Tales of A Grass Widow, the sisters were supported by a keyboard player/multi-instrumentalist and a beat boxer in place of a percussionist. After working with Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurðsson, CocoRosie sound has grown comparable to Bjork or Kate Havnevik, however, these artists have retained a much spookier aesthetic. Drawing heavily from their last several albums, the sisters stunned the crowd with their distinct vocals. Sierra’s airy voice reflects her many years of operatic training while Bianca sports her own distinctive growl.

Playing to a variety of arrangements featuring harps, keyboards, trumpets, and piano – the duets between the Bianca and Sierra remain CocoRosie’s defining sound Mixing folk, pop, opera, and hip hop; CocoRosie are certainly identifiable in their own right but there was a certain lack of dynamics in song writing during the performance. While there were slight differences, the beat boxing and somewhat restrained instrumentation grew a little monotonous. When the opening act (hip hop artist Busdriver) collaborated with the pair of sisters the end of the set, it was a welcome change. Also breaking up the minor key pop excursions was a beat box solo but for the most part, most of the stylistic shifts were conducted with Bianca and Sierra’s wardrobes. Changing outfits a good seven or eight times throughout the set, the girls are enthusiastic fashionistas as well as musicians; paired with their theatrical presence, their bizarre consignments contributed to their creative flare. With their unique style and arrangements, Cocorosie are certainly memorable; the audience was an odd mix of a pop and hip hop crowd with a few perplexed folk fans expecting something closer to tracks off of their debut album such as “By Your Side” or “Terrible Angels”. Like their music, their performances defy many genre constrictions.

CocoRosie’s recent material is virtually undistinguishable from some of their early material for which they are known. While the band has proven their merit over a steady stream of albums and maintained a unique aesthetic, their excursions with auto-tune can be seen as a sign of commercial compromise; these elements may in time appear sheepish. It’s an unexpected direction considering the band’s extreme vocal talents. One thing is certain: you can expect the unexpected from CocoRosie.

Photos of CocoRosie © Selena McLeod

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