One of my very best friends on the Lower East Side often plays an acoustic set at frankly, one of the coolest and friendliest venues in New York City, “Pianos”. It is for this reasons that I occasionally check the line up to see if I might perchance stop by to surprise him should he be performing.
Several weeks ago whilst perusing the trade magazines I discovered a very interesting band from the U.K. holding a residency at said venue and going by the memorable moniker, “I Blame Coco”.
“I Blame Coco” is headed by the unbelievably talented Eliot “Coco” Paulina Sumner and yes, she is, of course, the daughter of the music icon, Sting. I’ve worked with artists in the past that are the descendants of music legends, I know first-hand how annoying and frustrating the topic of whom their parents are can be. I actually only bring it up, because throughout “I Blame Coco’s” set, I stood shoulder to shoulder with Sting himself. Now, like several generations, I’ve grown up with Sting providing at least a portion of my life’s soundtrack. My first (secret) crush was obsessed with “The Police” in high school, I celebrated his 60th Birthday at the Beacon where many of his family and friends honored, respected and admired him, I enjoyed listening to he and his lovely wife Trudie belt out “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”, I sat a table away from him at the premiere of the latest James Bond film, Skyfall and I’ve even watched countless teenage girls swoon over the very site of his son Joe. This night, however, at a small and crowed venue in Lower Manhattan, as I stood side by side with Mr. Sumner, all I saw was a proud father in supporting his wonderful daughter while wrapping his arms around her mother Trudie, quite clearly the very love of his life.
In one of Coco’s often written about songs, she proclaims, “forget my dad; you need to hear my band!” Then it actually happened, without warning of conscious thought, it is precisely what I did.
Coco has a truly remarkable presence on stage, she is reportedly shy, but this girl was tough as nails, talented as hell and humble enough that the crowd instantly fell in love with her. Her persona is fierce, determined and addicting. She peers at the audience with such intensity that though she is young she clearly gets “it” and whatever that “it” is, it’s surely not something she was taught, but something she created or discovered all on her own. Coco’s intensity is only matched by the seriousness of her gaze which creates a feeling that it might burn right through you if you dared make eye contact. That fear and excitement was suddenly halted when she’d flash a quick smile, a smile that causes you to remain fixated…waiting intently for the opportunity that you might get to see that smile again.
Coco’s lyrics are deep and beautifully written, her instrumentation is well structured, her musical talent is without question and her band is both impressive and thoroughly supportive. Her melodies are memorable and brought to life by her absolute amazing voice. Many have thrown in comparisons here; I will not but to say that there are familiarities to which I hope she is proud of. Most effectively she is using what she was born with to create something entirely new and very welcome. Her performance hearkens back to a time when live music was raw, honest, real and fun.
I was impressed with the turn out of the crowd that night and because she was playing every Friday for the month; I went back again to see her last performance. This final performance at Pianos was packed to the point that movement was near impossible (pay heed bookers). I stayed in the back of the venue and listened once again to “I Blame Coco” enjoying the enthusiasm of the crowd. As good fortune would have it, this night I was shoulder to shoulder with the beautiful Lake Bell, whom could not have been sweeter as she consistently applauded the band next to her beau the super-cool Scott Campbell.
I would like to thank “I Blame Coco” for honestly, impressing the hell out of me. If a certain Englishman in New York is happy walking on the moon, I can assure you that the new girl in Brooklyn is heading straight for the stars. Finally, if I can imagine for a moment myself a talented comedic writer, I would very much like one day to watch the hilarious Mr. Warwick Davis denied entry to one of Coco’s shows. (Cheers lads!)
Drew the Line
Tick Tock (please rewind)
Photo Credit: Jason Ell