CocoRosie - The Regal, Oxford - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

CocoRosie - The Regal, Oxford

by Hiro Master Rating:8 Release Date:

The last time I was at the Regal, I hid in the toilet with a friend for half an hour because we were being chased by a drunken, topless idiot dressed as a smurf. So it was with a head held high that I walked in to see the Brooklyn-based, gender 'n' genre-bending CocoRosie.

First on were support band Light Asylum, which comprises Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello, two Brooklyn-based new romantics, with a post-punk, industrial take on electro synth arrangements. Some monged-out, beer belly of a man announces in barely audible but sufficiently sycophantic tones that the one, the only CocoRosie are coming on. A well attended, most early twenty-something indie crowd cheer enthusiastically. CocoRosie's blend of 'freak folk' or 'trip hop' (choose your ridiculous mutant genre) really can divide a crowd, and this one is sedate but supportive.

The gig kicks off to a rather wobbly start, with a quietly impenetrable song from Sierra 'Rosie' Casady, the operatically trained one of the two sisters, whose background in gospel and spirituals can be heard in her soaring, operatic soprano. From the second song onwards, they have the crowd with them every step. There is something about a CocoRosie gig that sets you in a mood and keeps you there. Maybe it's the sound of warped harp and synth, the wailing cats and horses created by Bianca 'Coco' Casady on kids' toys and percussion instruments. Maybe it's the nonsensical lyrics about other worlds inhabited by baby dinosaurs and talking animals, where death and apocalypses and baby worm souls mix together in a sometimes nonsensical but often charming manner. It could be all this, or the stage itself, which is littered with toys and instruments, while the screens on the back of the stage project dreamy videos of wailing babies and foggy landscapes. Many of the songs played tonight are from the new album Grey Oceans such as 'Smokey Taboo', and 'Hopscotch', but they still play some old favourites, including a rearrangement of their hit 'Rainbow Warriors' from their third album The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn.

Bianca's raspy Billy Holiday-meets-Joanna-Newsome voice is thick and curdling on the ear, and a perfect contrast to Sierra's soprano. Their performance styles are vastly different; Sierra likes to dance around the stage in a white kaftan, moving her arms in the air and smiling with perfectly painted pink cheeks. Bianca is pure female aggression and sexuality. She stares you out, challenges you to mess with her, and even though she's wearing a dreadlock wig, an army jacket, fawn's ears and blood dripping out of her mouth, she is not someone you want to knock into in a dark alley. The dynamic between the two is one of the most engaging things about their live performances. One minute, you'll think that Bianca wants to wallop her sister with a percussion instrument, while Sierra hops around like a kid who's eaten too many Smarties. Other times they'll look serious and whisper to each other, and then occasionally you'll get flashes of two kids at playtime, messing around with their toys. On the vaudevillian trip hop of 'Hopscotch', they clap their hands together like little kids, giggling and repeating the lyrics "I got a hopscotch tear drop ready to drop".

By the end, the crowd are stamping riotously on the floor - "Play 'Beautiful Boyz'!!" yells a frantic blonde near me. The beer lout presenter comes back, mumbles incoherently and stomps off. Security guards hurry you out of the venue. With barely enough time to smoke a fag in the allocated area, we are thrust out into the cold, harsh world of Cowley Road, and there he is, a nude, painted twat on a mobile, chatting about chundering. That's the problem with CocoRosie, they take you into their world, and then throw you out.

Sophia Satchell Baeza

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