Controlling the LED Bar V2.0 from RaspberryPI without the GrovePi+ HAT

Is it possible to use the LED Bar V2.0 without the GrovePi+ hat. My SBC is a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. I don’t have a need for all the sensor interfaces that the GrovePi offers. It is an overkill for me. I just want to be able to command and control the LED bar using those 2 pins D9, D8 using software. How do I talk to these pins? Are they just GPIOs that I can write to from linux or is there some kind of protocol built on top that involves using a GrovePI.

LED Bar V2.0b must be used with Raspberry Pi and GrovePi+