CocoRosie / Katie Stelmanis Le National, Montreal, QC September 7
Published Sep 08, 2009It took CocoRosie three tries to finally make it to Montreal. While drug arrests and/or border rejections have previously got in the way, the freak-folk fanbase has been quietly simmering and anxiously awaiting the Parisian sisters' return.
For support, this time they brought Toronto darling Katie Stelmanis, who opened the show with her fitting pop-opera style. On the Lykke Li tip, Stelmanis was an entertaining performer who devoted herself to her mid-tempo, albeit repetitive, pop gems. Catchy guitar riffs were highlighted by percussive synths and booming, simple drums, but all the elements came second to Stelmanis's classically trained pipes.
CocoRosie are a paradoxical band. They have produced some of the strangest and most unlistenable music around, but the opera/twee/rap ensemble have still gathered a huge audience, easily selling out their Montreal appearance. The projections that appeared behind the band throughout the set flashed ironic images of Care Bears and My Little Ponies, which fit with their childlike vocal riffings but were not quite as clever as they may have thought. What was clever, however, was the use of a beatboxer as percussionist. The beats played along nicely with the live bass, which provided a solid rhythm section. The slightly medieval theatrics from the band's two lead vocalists, however, were often so off-putting that it distracted from the enjoyable drum and bass.
Yet Montreal has a penchant for operatic lullabies, with every track from CocoRosie's questionable discography (including the recent tour-only release Coconuts, Plenty of Junk Food EP) being greeted with great applause. These sisters may create interesting soundscapes live, but it was still just too weird to call it memorable.