Sunday nights tend to be depressing because they are an inescapable slide towards Monday. But May 5th was different because I was looking forward to see Purity Ring, whose music had recently captured my attention and instated a monopoly over what gets played in my house. Quite the shift from my usual alternative and folk rock playlist, their dreamy sound mesmerized me instantly: solid but subtle beats with beautiful female vocals; how very Scandinavian! …except they’re from Edmonton, Alberta.
Although I arrived fashionably late, I still had to endure about 45 mins of hip-hop before the opening act, Montreal duo Blue Hawaii, made it onto the stage. Singer Raphaelle “Raph” Standell-Presto appeared shy as she asked for less light and informed the large crowd that they’d start off slow and work their way up. Together with Alex “Agor” Cowan’s production, Blue Hawaii delivered a great set with seamless transitions, working their way to an up-beat chill-out session, that got everyone nodding along with their arms crossed. Raph did a great job of looping her vocals and showed that she can carry a note with her powerful voice, drawing cheers from the crowd. The last few songs finally got everyone moving but it was over before the audience got to warm up. They’ll definitely be the soundtrack to my next road-trip but the performance itself left me wanting more. And that’s where, after another long wait, Purity Ring came on stage and truly delivered that “more” I was looking for.
Megan James, the group’s singer, and Corin Roddick, the band’s producer, appeared through a thick fog to the palpable delight of the mostly pubescent, cropped-shorts-wearing audience. Their experimental pop sound was delivered confidently and augmented by the lightshow of the dozens of cocoons hanging down from the ceiling. Megan looked like a Victorian ghost, wearing a white buttoned up dress and her teased hair seemed to blend into the fog, as she moved slowly across the stage. The crowd was infected by the energy on stage but got even more excited during favourites such as “Amenamy”, “Belispeak”, and, of course, “Lofticries”. Even if he didn’t move around the stage eerily, the way Megan did, Corin contributed to the performance by lighting up paper lanterns with drumsticks and working his magic on the synth. The songs sounded a lot more powerful than the versions on their album Shrines, with more dramatic build-ups at times, making for an excellent live performance. Although I did miss the snippets of crowd-interaction between songs, that can give you a glimpse into the band members’ personalities, it would have diminished the mysterious atmosphere they had created on stage and that permeated the audience like the fog that was slowly rolling down the stage, seemingly accompanied by the band’s dreamy yet dark beats. I’m definitely dragging my friends to their next performance!