Quick Concert Review: CocoRosie

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Last Tuesday night brought about a very different type of show, as CocoRosie graced the stage at the Black Cat. There is no genre that to describe all of the influences that on display that evening, but suffice to say that a tapestry was woven for an enthusiastic crowd that came knowing to expect the unexpected. The New York Times thought Freak Folk is as close to a description as can be attached to their oeuvre.  I guess. A narrative doesn’t work for this unique act, so instead I’m just posting some of the notes I made during the show.

Just….incredibly unique. It’s absolutely avant garde so I have a hard time judging it holistically. My musical vocab is failing me. Genre bending and gender bending. Influences include, amongst others, Hip hop, trip hop, ragtime, opera…incredible melange. Operatic soprano, Edith Piaf / Beth Gibbons vocalizations over hip hop beatboxing, beatboxing that’s more like spot-on sound effects, middle eastern instrumentation, piano, unique arrangements, dischordant feedback, A Midsummer Night’s Dream makeup, outfits, etc. And a harp. And violin. And an incredible sincerity of performance with Broadway quality flourish. Dubbed overlay of psychiatric ward-style screams. Yes, a strange combination, but it works, and really really well. A guy who makes incredible sounds (all sorts of sounds that sound verbatim like their real-world inspiration) plus the best beatboxing I think I’ve ever heard. Just insanely cool. Tall, thin, Euro-looking guy….he performed a song solo that sounded like an entire song of “house music”…with just his voice. He’s absolutely sick. I seriously don’t believe what I just saw / heard. Blown away. They’re so much more interesting live than recorded.

In short, CocoRosie is definitely performance art, some of which is as good as anything I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t all work, but some of it is mind-blowingly fantastic.

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Behrnsie has a love for music that dare not speak its name. He attends many shows and can often be found counting out the beats for no discernible reason. He played alto saxophone in his middle school jazz band, where he was best known for infuriating his instructor when it was revealed that he played everything by ear, and could not in fact read music. He takes great pride that this is the same talent/affliction that got Tori Amos kicked out of the Peabody Academy. He does not live in his parents’ basement….except during the holidays.