CocoRosie to play the Cedar Cultural Center

CocoRosie trades in the whimsical for the real world on their latest record, “Tales of a GrassWidow.”

Joe Kellen

CocoRosie’s Sierra Casady doesn’t do well when she’s got time on her hands.

“It’s hard to have a couple days off. … You’d think we enjoy it, but we don’t,” she said. “I’m itching to get back on the road.”

Casady and her sister Bianca have been infected by the work bug, touring internationally and expanding on their “freak folk” style the band is known for.

 The esoteric duo released their record “Tales of a GrassWidow” in May of this year. You can still hear the same haunting vocals and folksy string work, but CocoRosie takes more of an electro-pop approach on “GrassWidow,” expanding their repertoire with oscillating keys and bouncing synth licks.

The subject matter on the new record strays away from their musings on the supernatural and astral projections and focuses on social issues.

“It explores what it is to be human and what it means to be an older person and an outcast,” Sierra Casady said.

With songs like “Child Bride” and “Harmless Monster,” “GrassWidow” creates snapshots of characters marginalized by the world they live in. CocoRosie goes for broke on emotionally connecting these people to listeners, revealing in “Monster” through a broken, ghostly voice that the character used to be “someone’s sweet thing” but is now a “humbug and a harlot.”

It’s one thing to have the lyrics describe the characters, but the band thought audiences ought to be able to actually see them at shows. CocoRosie has been theatrical in the past, playing in costume and wearing makeup reminiscent of tree sprites, but they’re stepping up their game on this tour.

“We’re taking our show to a much more narrative place than we ever have. We use some big props, and we play with the idea of transformation during the show,” Bianca Casady said.

According to Sierra Casady, the addition of props and costuming changes how the audience watches the performance.

“We want to build a more intimate relationship with the audience by letting them into our process,” she said. “I think there have been moments where we notice that the audience is in a trance of some kind.”

In concert, the band still gives showgoers a taste of the classic, less narratively centered CocoRosie.

While the band enjoys playing the hits, those songs aren’t as interesting as other artistic prospects. Bianca Casady started a feminist magazine called “Girls Against God” that uses art and essays to illuminate patriarchal influences on society. The sisters also started a group titled “Future Feminism.” They’re making an art exhibition that expands on themes of oppression from “GrassWidow.”

Sierra said that their growth has been natural, and they plan on taking it even further in the future.

“We’re constantly trying to build reflections of the essence of whatever we’re experiencing. The music is like a photograph of what Bianca and I share,” she said.

Maybe it’s a blessing that the two aren’t big on relaxation — it means we never see the same photograph twice.


What: CocoRosie
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: The Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $25-30 (SOLD OUT)