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Review: Purity Ring

Purity Ring played a show at Oxford Art Factory, and it looked as pretty it sounds.

Purity Ring at OAF. Photo: Nick Westin
Purity Ring at OAF. Photo: Nick Westin
Purity Ring at OAF. Photo: Nick Westin

I’d heard Purity Ring doing a radio interview last week about how they try to emphasise the visual element of their music in their live shows.  Seeing them later that night this was clear. Purity Ring’s show featured a stage of spectacularly glowing cocoon-like things hanging from the ceiling, with singer Megan James nestled amongst them on Oxford Art Factory’s tiny stage.

The production half of the band, Corin Roddick, plays on an apparatus that is a collection of hittable lanterns connected to synths that light and play upon touch. Think a touch lamp crossed with a xylophone, with lanterns last seen from my childhood afternoons pretending to be Spyro the dragon chasing a goblin down a passageway. Not a bad look in any case. Roddick began out musically as a drummer, and still basically drums while making music that fits safely into the electronic pop genre.  Megan James is all lingering gazes, cute twirls and wandering around a stage.

The show went off in the dungeon-like OAF. One of the openers and fellow Canadians, Headaches, did a hot job of warming up the crowd and encouraging them to do a bit of jumping around before the main event.

Purity Ring is a sing-song version of The Knife at times – pop with claps, synths, sweet melodies and skippy light beats. There was nary a head not bobbing or an ass not moving. Actually, I did see a couple of girls napping on those nice couches at the back, but they’d probably had a long day at the office so that’s okay.

The show made me think about how electronic music needs to be visual, because in a normal listening situation all you really do is hear and feel it. James and Roddick are aware that we go to gigs to see something happen, even when it’s electronic music. I doubt that most people would go to see a gig in a dark room with nothing to look at but a dude who basically looks like he’s typing into Word on his Macbook.

Purity Ring did a really very beautiful job of being mindful of this while creating music you can move to.