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Coachella Week: Purity Ring’s special effects win over Beauty Bar crowd

April 11, 2013 at Beauty Bar

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Purity Ring singer Megan Jones emerges from the smoke and lights at Beauty Bar on April 11.
Photo: Chris Bitonti
Chris Bitonti

In contrast to Wednesday night’s almost empty Mac DeMarco show, the Beauty Bar’s trailer court is filled to near capacity tonight in anticipation of Purity Ring. There is a high energy coming off the crowd, people dancing and singing loudly, creating a pre-show powder keg of excitement even before the Canadian electro-trance-pop duo takes the stage. Though currently dark, the stage has a foreboding intensity to it. Giant paper mâché pods hang above the stage, which is draped in black cloth hiding the band's “instruments."

When Purity Ring takes the stage at 11:45, the duo unveils an elevated kick drum miked to sound like a gunshot when struck and what I can best describe as a light-up-percussion-instrument-trigger-pad-doodad-thingy. It has snaked lights extending from it that illuminate when struck, extended at various heights and programmed with samples like an electronic drum pad. Canned smoke bellows off the stage, more than I’ve ever seen used and even though the trailer court is open air, it fills the space completely. The hanging pods also light up. They are timed to Purity Ring’s churning break-beat drums, and at times are one of the only things you can see through the smoke. The show’s stage lighting is fantastic, which is a good thing because there's not a lot of movement on stage. Corin Roddick stands behind his electronic trigger pad like a mad scientist constantly slapping, turning and hitting god knows what, but each stroke generates a new bizarre tone and a bright light.

Singer Megan Jones camps stoically at the front of the stage, her quadrupled high pitch voice cuts through the heavy bass sharply and echoes through the air. “This is our very first time in Las Vegas,” Jones admits, then asks us, “Are you aware that you live in a very strange city?” Surprisingly, it takes awhile for the crowd to fully get behind Purity Ring. Jones even politely announces, "I feel like you're not quite into it enough." And that's true at first, mostly because PR songs are almost entirely mid-tempo. But like a slow burn, the crowd eventually whip themselves into a frenzy for the band’s most popular song “Fineshrine” and the show ends after almost exactly an hour on a very high note.

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