Making a Vegas stopover en route to Coachella, Canadian duo Purity Ring—singer Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick—played to an eager full house, fans sardining their way toward the stage for a haunting, yet ethereal performance.
There is a yin-and-yang aspect to Purity Ring, whose music demonstrates how a duality of sounds and elements can complement each other. Ambience is met with dark, resonant bass and upbeat synths.
Mostly, the twosome played tunes off their debut album, Shrines (though they also added one cover, an oddly impressive version of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy”). A lull fell over the crowd during performances of “Cartographist,” “Loftcries” and “Shuck.” While enchanted by James’ distinct, childlike voice, it’s easy to overlook the disturbing lyrics: When the moon is full and I’ve pried/I’ll take up your guts to the little shed outside.
Her vocals were chopped and pitch-shifted by Roddick, who controls the soundboard, lending character to their live performance by experimenting with beats and manipulations not heard on the album. Highlights of their set occurred during “Ungirthed,” “Fineshrine” and “Belispeak,” in which percussion and hip-hop beats had the crowd dancing relentlessly.
It was the most visually pleasing performance I’ve seen at Beauty Bar: an installation of suspended cocoons lit up in different colors and synchronized to the music. Roddick played touch-sensitive drum pads that resembled glowing orbs as James banged on an illuminated bass drum. Alternating colors shined toward the audience, framing the duo’s silhouettes on the foggy stage.
It’s always great to see artists on the rise play small gigs, but because of the engaging nature of Purity Ring’s sound and visuals, a bigger, indoor venue would have been more fitting. ★★★★☆