Purity Ring played a sold-out show last Thursday at the El Rey. As a fan of their album Shrines, (reviewed here), I was excited to see how they would recreate their unique sound live. Corin Roddick proved to be in non-stop motion behind his custom instrument, sometimes turning unseen knobs or scratching and sometimes striking an array of what looked like light bulbs but were obviously electronic drums. The way they lit up when struck was visually exciting, and it added to the already spectacular ambiance of the stage, with its intense lighting and dimly glowing bulbs dangling overhead.
Megan James might have had some trouble hearing at first, or there was a sound issue, because her vocals seemed to be a beat behind the music for the first couple songs. Whatever the problem, it straightened itself out before long and her eerie, delicate voice was captivating. Her look was interesting: her hair appeared to be pulled back rather messily and, at least from afar, she gave off sort of a dazed vibe. There was a large drum held up like a gong onstage and she would occasionally strike it, adding emphasis to certain beats. At times she also held a lantern up against her middle that looked like she was glowing from inside. (more photos after the jump)
I was very impressed with Roddick, who seemed in total control and whose movements were slick and stylized. “Fineshrine” was especially great, with its scratching in the intro and chorus more in the forefront than in the recording. Roddick looked like a mechanical man behind his machine, in perfect contrast to James’s distracted ethereality. “Saltkin” was another hit with the diverse crowd as well as “Belispeak”; there was audible singing along throughout the show.
Opening act Blue Hawaii – another electronic guy/girl duo – had an impressive set, but I was surprised to find their music on Spotify was much sleepier. Singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston had an almost twee, super-sweet rapport with the crowd, but she could belt out some long notes that got people cheering.