For fans of Canadian electronic duos, the double-bill at Metro Chicago on Friday, May 3rd was heaven sent. Fresh off their impressive Coachella appearances, and midway through a coast-to-coast North American tour, Edmonton’s Purity Ring blew into the Windy City for sold out back-to-back shows. Joined by the compelling Montreal pair Blue Hawaii, the midnight show began with a suite of songs featuring Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s powerful vocals harmonizing over deep, crushing drum and bass tracks provided by bandmate Alex Cowan. As Preston worked herself into a frenzy during the final song, the crowd responded with shrieks and applause, surging toward the stage.
After a brief break, Purity Ring took the stage and provided the audience with a surreal, interactive art experience weaving through the tracks from their 2012 Shrines album. Surrounded by an innovative and textured light display designed by Corin Roddick, Megan James drove the band’s message home with delicate, ethereal lullabies, combined with moody and rich melodies that carried to the edge of the room. The striking custom-built percussion kit played by Roddick infused a dreamlike state into each song with his rhythmic beats syncing to colored light bulbs upon each tap of his stick. The hip hop tracks induced the audience to shake in response while the beats intertwined with the lush, dreamlike melodies offered by the alluring singer. James at times hovered above the crowd, climbing atop stage equipment while hypnotizing fans through atmospheric vocals, often modified to ghastly effect. Owing to the young group’s limited catalog, the crowd cheered in unison when the duo launched into popular tracks like “Belispeak” and “Lofticries”. In perhaps a nod to David Byrne in the Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense, James lifted to her face an illuminated handheld light attached to a lengthy cord and sung while backlit, offering herself as a disturbing apparition to the audience. And once the hour long set ended, the only question was whether what took place was even real, or in fact something more paranormal.
Purity Ring will appear on Saturday, May 11th at the Bowery Ballroom as part of New York City’s Downtown Music Festival, on Thursday, June 13th at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, and July 12th-14th at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. Blue Hawaii will appear May 16th – 18th at the Great Escape 2013 in Brighton, England.