CocoRosie at The Cedar Cultural Center, 10/19/13
|Photo by J.M. Ruellan|
Sierra and Bianca Casady, aka CocoRosie, have made a name for themselves by being eccentric and experimental artists. From feminist expression to the starkly juxtaposed layers of their vocal performances, it's a challenge to describe their work in comparison to other musicians today.
Saturday's show featured intricate theatrics that felt more like performance art than a purely musical endeavor. The stage was backed with a clothesline adorned with different garments and an old vanity and mirror -- their exposed dressing room for the many costume and makeup changes throughout the show. The single hair roller in Sierra's bangs set the tone for this bizarre display of what felt like two sisters playing dress up in an alternative, circus-like world.
Bianca's intentionally shaky and whimsically whiny vocals, sometimes resembling Björk, cut through the room. Meanwhile, the howling opera portions by Sierra were haunting and consuming while she intently played the harp. All of this with the impressive accompinament from beatboxer Tez, who wore black clownish makeup around his eyes and subtly stood on the side of the stage as if to be more of an instrument in this odd orchestra than a performer, at least until later in the show when he did an abbreviated version of Ginuwine's "Pony."
Through each song, from the Grey Oceans track "Smokey Taboo" at the start to more recent songs like "Harmless Monster" and "After the Afterlife," the sisters retrieved their next garment from the clothes line and took turns sitting at the vanity applying make up, creating a feeling like the audience was observing behind the scenes of a what a Halloween Vaudeville show might be like.
Even with Sierra's angelic operatic moments and Bianca later playing a wooden flute, the sense of darkness prevailed with the projected images on the back screen. They both had cameras attached to the top of their microphone stand that gave a close up shot of their faces, projected live behind them; only it was negative image, paranormal type footage. The show's entrancing aura was softened when a group of young kids, "little beauties" as Sierra referred to them, joined CocoRosie on stage toward the end of the set, nervously singing along. It wasn't exactly clear who they were or why they were there, but after the unusual nature of the entire show, or of their entire careers as musicians, an explanation wasn't really required.
Like any live show with choreographed production, there was a different sense of artistic expression than just talented musicians playing for their fans. CocoRosie has developed through their career into increasingly, uniquely bizarre and captivating performers. Although many of their costume choices and transitions were figuratively and literally loud, the show felt calm and intimate. It's clear that the sisters each have very distinctly different personas and characteristics on stage, likely derived from their separate endeavors growing up and living in many places, from New Mexico to Paris. But they have harmoniously created a genre of their own with CocoRosie.
Personal Bias: I had never seen CocoRosie live before, so I might have been more enchanted and surprised by the intensity of performance than those who knew what to expect from the sisters.
The Crowd: From the line to get beer to the presence around the stage, it was one of the more civilized and orderly live shows I've been to.
Overheard in the Crowd: Nothing. Besides some sporadic cheering, it was quiet. Everyone seemed to be intently listening and respectfully observing the show.
After the Afterlife
R.I.P. Burn Face
God Has a Voice She Speaks Through Me
Tears for Animals
End of Time
Roots of my Hair