I heard about Purity Ring over a year ago from a friend who said they were similar to Phantogram, a band whose single “Mouthful of Diamonds” was the title track to my 2011. But Purity Ring failed to win me over. They came to Beauty Bar and I had little interest. I saw their T-shirts worn all over town and still felt reluctant to give them a try.
Then I saw they were playing Life Is Beautiful. Okay, I thought. I give in. Why it took me so long to get into Purity Ring, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the electro-pop bus has kind of come and gone for me. But Saturday night’s set revived my love for ethereal, lovey, dream-pop that Purity Ring does so very well. It’s nice on record, but live, the head-throbbing, body-rattling bass is inescapable and swallows you whole.
Chirping, glitchy, glittery beats are layered upon layer of hip-hop beats, ghostly melodies and eerie, dark soundscapes while lead singer Megan James crawls along the stage singing with cherub-like vocals. Her style, somewhere between Bjork and The Knife and CocoRosie, is as haunting as it is beautiful. It’s reserved; like more of a talk-sing, letting the intricate live melodies mix through each lyric to provide texture and form. But James’ range isn’t limited. Surprisingly, she subtly gives the audience a taste of her unaffected voice, with soulful body more akin to Beyoncé.
During “Obedear,” everyone starts to dance, and not one person looks the same. A girl to my left is pop n’ locking, her smug attitude and white chucks showing casual confidence. In front of me, a group of girls and guys are in full-out festival attire, with neon knee-high socks, flowery headbands and hats, doing whatever their bodies feel like at the moment. On stage, white cocoon-like lamp structures hang in the air from clusters of thin rods, backed by a flood of green and blue lights. It’s a futuristic nature-inspired theme that plays perfectly off of the duo’s electric-yet-organic beat production, which beatmaster Corin Roddick triggers on a piano of orbs. Like a celestial drum machine, Roddick manipulates each orb with drumsticks, the light glowing white in mid-air. Purity Ring closes with their most-known track, “Fineshrine,” from their LP, Shrines.
It’s onto the next show as I weave in and out of the crowd, which still seems to be gathering its bearings. “They’re f*cking awesome,” I hear from a fan. I can finally agree.