Performing in front of a sold-out crowd, Purity Ring transported the inhabitants of the Rock and Roll Hotel to an extraterrestrial planet with their trippy tunes on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Behind all the high-pitched robotic voices and synthesized noise are Montreal’s own Megan James and Corin Roddick.
Openers for the synth-pop duo were electronic beats master Headaches, followed by Evian Christ, an upcoming hip-hop/R&B artist from the UK. Both acts entertained the audience with electronic club beats and a miniature laser show for one hour each.
Once the custom-made lanterns hanging from the ceiling began to glow, everyone’s attention was fixated on the stage as James and Roddick floated to their spots. As expected, Roddick was positioned in the corner with his custom-made tree shaped instrument that simultaneously activated light and sound on stage.
James, who comes off as a quiet and timid individual off stage, completely transforms into a mystical enchantress whose shrillingly pitch-perfect voice causes a massive outbreak of goosebumps. She’s a relatively petite woman and hard to find while fading in and out of the shadows, but once the light from the lanterns hit on her, she illuminates the entire room with her pure radiance.
Purity Ring has a chimerical effect live—their music works in sync with the lights, enchanting the audience one beat at a time. It literally feels like being a deer in headlights, especially with a foggy haze casted over the crowd, which makes James and Roddick’s stage presence even more over-the-top throughout their entire set.Needless to say that fans had a trippy experience.
Explaining the assortment of technicalities that are involved with Purity Ring’s live performance is a process in itself. The beats—electronically produced and projected from the large drum that James uses on stage—profusely pulsed like a beating heart. Of course, the hypnotic synthesizers enhance the listening experience, but they also played well with the words of the songs.
“Get a little closer, let fold. Cut open my sternum, and pull my little ribs around you. The lungs of me be crowns over you,” James hummed with innocence to the beat.
Purity Ring’s somewhat creepy, graphic and disturbing lyrics are a cross between not making sense and being too profound to be understood by the average mind. Regardless, most people didn’t bother comprehending anything James said and stuck to dancing the night away.
All of these clinquant elements were most notable within “Fineshrine,” “Belispeak” and “Obedear,” all songs form their debut album, Shrines. Pitchfork stamped the record with an 8.4 rating, praising it with the honorary stamp of Best New Music.
Purity Ring’s set didn’t last long enough, clocking in at about 40 minutes, but James and Roddick left a vibrant enough effect that will most likely secure them with a fourth show in D.C. sometime in the impending future.