Show Review: CocoRosie and Cibelle at The Regency, 6/29/10

by Caroline Hernandez on July 6, 2010

The Regency is not one of my favorite venues. Tuesday night is not a night I like to stay out late. Therefore, I was not looking forward to seeing this show. I can be an unappreciative asshole at times, but I sucked it up anyways and took one for the team. The only album of CocoRosie that I was familiar with was La maison de mon reve which was beautifully creepy. So I was expecting a dark, mellow show, as I had never seen them perform live before. I could handle that.

Upon arriving at The Regency, I figured dulling my agitation with a cocktail was the right thing to do. At the bartender’s recommendation, I ordered a Dark n’ Stormy, apparently Bermuda’s official drink, to wet my whistle. $19 later, and senses adequately dulled I took my place among the crowd. It must have been a full moon or something because, man, the weirdo’s were out. I’m not sure what kind of crowd I was expecting, maybe the usual quite, head bobbing hipsters. I definitely didn’t anticipate the rambunctious crowd that was present, Feathers, and face paint abounded enough so to make me feel like I missed the memo or something. Another surprise came with all the young kids (x on the right hand marks under 18). I certainly wasn’t sophisticated enough as a teenage to listed to the likes of CocoRosie. The weirdest I ever got was Tori Amos circa The Choir Girl Hotel, and even then I felt a little embarrassed about listening and to it. The adolescents in San Francisco definitely have the edge over my tastes when I was that age.

On stage, glitter, tinsel, and white lights line the mic. Jungle sounds signaled the start of the show. Monkeys, birds, and then the voice of a woman welcome us to our impending musical journey. Seconds later, Cibelle took the stage. Wearing a long hot pink robe and sporting big teased out curly hair; she began to play the first chords of her song. As soon as she started singing I realized I didn’t bring my earplugs, and this was a definite earplug situation. There was so much reverb on her vocals that her voice was muddled by her own voice. She stopped playing a little into her first song and apologized for her guitar being out of tune, and tuned it while she played a pre-recorded beat for the crowd. The rest of Cibelle’s set followed this pattern; too much reverb masking what may have been a pretty voice with sub par beats.  To her credit, the song she sang in her native language (Portugese?) was actually really good.

After her departure from the stage, the glitter and tinsel, and white lights also exited, and all that was left were instruments on an otherwise undecorated stage. Moments later, the screen behind the stage lit up with images of a carousel, and CocoRosie took the stage.  Sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady take their respective places on stage followed by three others in their band. What proceeded immediately perks me up and made me happy I lugged my ass off my coach. Sierra’s voice is amazing. And then I immediately realized what all the face paint was about. Aside from the strange face paint, both sisters also have on crazy outfits. The crowd makes sense now.

As their set progressed, I realized that their sound has evolved from what I remembered from La maison de mon reve. The vocals were beautifully layered with piano, and harp, and beats from the delightful and super talented beat boxer. Making what I would describe as a trip-hop kind of sound. Bianca’s voice is such a stark contrast to her sister classically trained vocals, child like, but incredibly adept. The lyrics are like a string of poetry almost rapped by Bianca. The sound they are creating and their look give me the impression that these people are on a totally different wavelength than I, and it makes me wish I could tap into those creative parts of my brain.

The highlight for me was when they played their cover of “Turn Me On”. I have a secret affinity for dancehall (f-off), and I actually liked the original Kevin Lyttle version. However, this is one of those rare occasions where the cover is ten times better than the original. Especially because Bianca did a quick intro with auto-tuned vocals describing the time she live in San Francisco and where she used to live. So clever!

Their new album, Grey Oceans, doesn’t quite allow one to have the perspective their live show gives. It certainly left me wishing I could listen to the songs as they are performed on stage, with more life and more depth. More than I expected when I walked into the venue.

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