Written by Angela Bacca
Photos by Eric Lawson
The CocoRosie show at the Regency Ballroom was opened by Cibelle, a native Brazilian who writes and performs her songs in French, English and Portuguese. Her performance relied entirely too heavily on sexy gimmicks—which would be fine if it didn’t remind me of the type of sex that makes you cringe when you think about it the next morning. Midway through her set she removed her pink bathrobe, revealed a skin tight body suit and fondled her electric guitar in front of her crotch. Every song gradually built up but never climaxed. When the set was over, she scurried around the stage picking up her garments before awkwardly running backstage.
And then CocoRosie took the stage, which was decorated with shiny plastic party balloons. The drum set was covered with a Lisa Frank-esque air brushed dolphin portrait. An enthused fan remarked to me before the show that all of their live performances were “magical,” and she was right.
CocoRosie, aka sisters Bianca and Sierra, came out swinging like 19th century literature; they were dressed like Great Expectations Ms. Havisham (the man-hating woman who wore a wedding dress for 30 years after being left at the aisle) and the Scarlet Letter’s Hester (the Puritan woman who was forced to wear the mark of an adulterer when she became pregnant out of wedlock). The entire show took on an air of a haunted child’s picnic frozen in time.
Their stage presence would have been lost in their own absurdity had the juxtaposition of the music with their persona not been so incredible. They frolicked around the stage in their flowing petticoats, but never missed a note. The soul of every song was never lost in their live translation.
Synthetic album beats and sounds were recreated with a grand piano, guitars, a harp, a harpsichord, and a human beat box. Yes, a human beat box—which was the backbone of every song. The sounds were combined with projector imagery of carnival rides, children’s toys, and waves crashing on an isolated beach. Their pure, enthusiastic energy was contagious to the San Francisco audience. Their show was so cathartic and true to the sounds that there really was no reason to pepper the live show with commentary and song explanations. They conveyed to the audience what they wanted to feel through their live performance.
Now if only their albums were as hypnotic and lesbi-erotic as their live shows…