CocoRosie at The Luckman Fine Arts Complex
June 17th, 2012
Critics are often at a loss when it comes to categorizing sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady of the band CocoRosie into any one conventional musical genre. Their work is usually described as “psych folk” or “freak folk,” a nod to the 1970’s traditional folk sounds of musicians such as Vashti Bunyan with her minimal lyrics and acoustic instrumentation. From this, CocoRosie have created their own highly distinctive sound, flitting playfully between opera, jazz, blues, gospel, indie, electronica, and even hip hop.
Arriving at The Luckman Fine Arts Complex this
past weekend, there was no mistaking that it was CocoRosie headlining the night’s bill. Costumed fans congregated everywhere, drawing obvious inspiration for their dress from the Casady sisters, for whom theatrical garb is an essential part of the dramatic productions. A veiled Sierra opened the first set with
her classically-trained bel canto to “God Has a Voice, She Speaks Through Me,” before sitting down at the harp to accompany Bianca in a spoken word performance of “Tearz for Animals,” done over electronic loops and the live beat boxing of
Vincent Garlantezec, better known as “TEZ.”
CocoRosie’s music is deceptively simplistic in their sparing use of musical elements. They pair their contrasting vocal styles with a juxtaposition of traditional and unconventional instruments,
distorted electronic sounds, and irregular beats. The result is a high degree of musical complexity that has garnered the utmost
admiration from many of their musical contemporaries like Antony Hegarty
of Antony and the Johnsons, Devendra Banhart, Nico Muhly, Annie Clark
(St. Vincent), and William Basinski to name just a few.
Taking their audience on a sonic odyssey from one song to the next, the duo deftly transitioned back-and-forth between musical genres with the blues-y “Haylofts,” to the electrically charged “Teen Angel,” and the exquisitely haunting “Fairy Paradise.” CocoRosie’s lyrics unabashedly explore themes of feminism with songs like “By Your Side,” as well as war, capitalism, and environmentalism in the solemn “Grey Oceans.”
Sung with striking emotional honesty, the fantastically crafted music of CocoRosie offers its listeners a temporary escape to another realm where these issues are no more. Perhaps it’s that complete lack of self-consciousness that their fans find so alluring, and who can blame them.
Watch excerpts from the from CocoRosie’s live performance at The Luckman.
Part One: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyWTb0xLfQc
Part Two: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCjYloj7fro&feature=relmfu
For information about CocoRosie: www.tgrec.com/bands/band.php?id=8/
Photos courtesy of The Luckman Fine Arts Complex: www.luckmanarts.org
Photos by Chris Molina: http://auburnsky.net/