by Irene Lo
This past Monday, Canadian guy-girl electronic duo, Purity Ring, performed at The Vogue. Coming right off the heels from a free outdoor show they put on in their hometown in Edmonton, Vancouver’s sold-out event was still pretty much amazing. Purity Ring, consisting of Megan James on vocals and multi-instrumentalist Corin Roddick, has rocketed in recent years to become the artist to talk about when future pop is being talked about. A genre that brought to surface one corner of the internet’s MP3 playground, where young kids were crossing indie pop with electronic beats to create something exciting and new, future pop can be limiting and dated to describe what Purity Ring is doing now.
Born Gold (Gobble Gobble) and Braids were Purity Ring’s supporting acts of the night. All Canadian acts, Braids was particularly memorable live. Originally from Calgary, this art rock group has made the inevitable move to Montreal, but Braids is not your average indie electronic duo. They shook things up with a guy-girl-guy triple threat combo. Coming off their third release, Flourish // Perish, Braids favoured prolonged jams, and some were hit or miss live. Their physical presence on-stage was staying to their appointed spots until the end but the ethereal, extended cuts were powerful and moving.
In contrast, Purity Ring knew how to make a strong statement that enhanced the live element to their music. With custom-built crystal sceptres that controlled lighting and sound, Roddick was in the middle, crafting simple but mesmerizing moments that hooked eyeballs towards him. As he hit the lanterns to make them pop, synchronized to the beats, James used the stage to make for great Instagram photos for fans. James was channeling a wood nymph from the 60s with tangled hair on purpose, and a pale high-waist ensemble. Lit-up against waterfall sheets of lights from purple to pink and white, Purity Ring smartly tapped into growing expectations for live shows to create a special experience that easily lends itself to documentation as well. The visuals fit in with the whimsical but bold music. From hits like “Fineshrine” to newer songs like “Stranger Than Earth,” Purity Ring was a balancing act between James’ ghostly voice and Roddick’s gutsy instrumentals.
Whether or not Purity Ring avoided the sophomore slump in their recent offering, Another Eternity, what they’ve learned from touring festivals and collaborating with hip-hop artists shines through. A confident performance with a theatrical and imaginative set-up, Purity Ring is enchanting live.