Curious as ever, Purity Ring tore the roof off of Neumos Wednesday night with a killer visual and aural experience. For anyone whose seen this strong rising act in the past (they hit the Sasquatch! Banana Shack this year), a Purity Ring show is known to confuse and impress. But with the new tour, Corin Roddick and Megan James are pulling back the curtain a little bit to show off how powerful of a live force they can really be.
The evening began with a strong performance from rising UK producer Evian Christ. Turns out, as James explained later, this was young Joshua Leary’s first live show ever. But without her saying it, no one would have known. Evian Christ threw down an awesome set, mixing dark hip-hop with R&B samples, as well as occasional sampled rap verses to make for one continuous slow burn of a set, very much akin to his fantastic February mixtape Kings and Them. Leary hardly ever looked up from his panel, triggering most (if not all) of the drums and samples manually. But as the set built and more and more of the crowd began to feel his groove, he couldn’t help but glance around a bit and appreciate this moment. No doubt, he totally deserved it.
As the stage was set for Purity Ring to emerge, you could sense the anticipation in the crowd. In shows past, Purity Ring has been a dizzying blur of smoke and light, and the ratio between fun and vertigo is about 1:1. But surprisingly, this time around, Purity Ring was 100% smoke-machine free. With lanterns hung everywhere and Roddick’s alien looking control station, as well as James’ light up bass drum, Purity Ring is a visual wonder - more so than some have noticed in the past, for sure. But once the band came out and dropped Shrines favorite “Belispeak”, the crowd really got to see the full extent of their thrills. As clicks and pulses and waves upon waves of bass kept emerging from Corin Roddick’s awesome sound setup, his famous lamps, as well as lanterns hung about the room, pulsed along. It took a couple songs just to figure out what all was going on, but no one minded one bit. Shrines is twice as powerful and haunting in the live setting, and even with only one album to play, the band created a new experience with their live show. Roddick teased the crowd with experimental introductions to both “Obedear” and “Ungirthed” to keep the energy building to the tipping point of each track. James’ voice was quite representative of the command seen on the record, and her ghostly float across the stage provided perfect kinetic accompaniment to Roddick’s work. In closing, the band played a more epic version of “Shuck” that had many howling along with James’ cryptic lyrics until the end. While Purity Ring’s set was short, the band gave it their all and gave the crowd more than their money’s worth.