CocoRosie decided to introduce Brooklyn to their newest album through a ceremonial concert at The Paper Box last weekend. The one-off was their only US show before a slew of European dates. The performance was as mystical as the Eleusinian mysteries with CocoRosie as a duo of Demetra’s priestesses initiating us to the sounds of their new album, Tales of a Grass Widow. The album will be available to stream on the NY Times website next week, and their sold out concert was unforgettable. We all know that Bushwick is a center of art and culture, but to be gifted with a rare performance from outstanding and world-renowned artists as CocoRosie came as a surprise. What came as even more of a shock was that Cocorosie specifically chose the venue in East Williamsburg.
CocoRosie actually “chose” The Paper Box. “They were specific,” their publicist Ashley Ayers explained, “they wanted a cool art space in Brooklyn.” So their only North American concert of the tour took place in the less-than-one-year-old space, The Paper Box. The space, which we’ve expressed our admiration for, used to be a paper factory (hence its name) but has since been turned into a temple of creativity with music at the forefront.
By the time Sierra struck the first chord of her transparent harp, my hair rose; by the end of the first song, I overheard someone in the audience confess, “Mesmerized, yet so calm.” Our journey had begun and excitement was pulsing through a crowd of devout initiates. It was a diverse crowd, reflective of the eclectic musical background that has formed CocoRosie’s music over the years. With roots in the United States and familiarity with Native American culture, the two sisters Bianca (Coco) and Sierra (Rosie) formed CocoRosie in Paris, France, where they recorded their first album La Maison de Mon Rêve in the bathroom of their apartment. Their music defies categorization. It brings together Sierra’s operatic singing with Bianca’s otherworldly vocals, along with beatboxing, keyboard and electronic beats. A combination made in hell that brought us “After the Afterlife,” a song that pairs Bianca’s flute and Tez’s beatboxing prowess. There’s a level of freak-folk to their chorals, and a gothicness to their composition, tinging the otherwise experimental music, elevating them to a sound unlike any other band.
This assembly of sounds, that speaks so loudly in headphones, was reinforced live with their unique personas on stage and theatrical performances, epic dance-offs included. During their encore they performed “We Are On Fire,” and Sierra swayed to the sound of Bianca’s flute. At the end of their performance, they thanked Brooklyn – and no one from the audience moved an inch. The crowd stood there and created as much noise as it could. At that point, we truly witnessed the “ascent,” the climax of an initiation that transcended us through dance.
Talking with several people from the audience after the performance, I heard lively reactions to what they had just experienced. “We loved it! It was amazing!” one person said. “I love their music and what they do…They have such good connection,” added another person. These love exclamations were part of this amazing feeling that hovers over every remarkable concert and it is felt by both the audience and the band. “There is so much life here [in Bushwick]. That’s why I love it,” Tez said after the concert. The manager of the band ushered us back onto the dance floor where Bianca and Sierra graciously danced with all of us. It was a transcendental moment.
The Paper Box hosts almost daily shows. Check out their calendar HERE.