CONCERT REVIEW: Sex Between Hipsters and Robots

  • Purity Ring at Le National. Photo Laura Pellicer

  • Purity Ring at Le National. Photo Laura Pellicer

Canadian electronic music duo Purity Ring played to a sold-out crowd at Le National on Friday night to kick off a tour supporting their first album.

Singer Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick received critical acclaim for the singles that worked their way through the online music world and then for their 11-track album Shrines. They were voted “Best New Music” by Pitchfork.

From where I stood—nestled near the speakers towards the front of the stage—the sound was ethereal. Glitchy deep bass stretched across the floor while James’s high, soft vocals floated from above.

It was miraculous that an indie electro band sounded better live than on the album and delivered a performance that actually kept my attention.

Roddick lit up the stage by beating against mini geometric snares attached to his MIDI controller. The lighting system was designed by Roddick and the band’s clothing was by James, making Purity Ring a truly DIY effort.

James punctuated her dark lyrics by beating a massive Celtic-style drum which threw beams of light into the crowd. The air was thick with not just light but other potent substances.

“I feel high, from the air,” said a guy standing behind me.

I realized I was possibly feeling the effects of more than just the music.

“Crawlersout” was first on the line-up, but it was the sound of “Lofticries,” arguably their most popular track, that got the crowd.

And then the rap began.

That was jarring. A member from the opening act Young Magic joined Roddick and James onstage for a little musical interlude on their track “Grandloves.” It was an awkward attempt at rap. These two are better left to their own devices.

Surprisingly, Purity Ring’s rendition of a Soulja Boy song later in the show worked, and the dance parties were back. And then the inevitable happened—with only 11 tracks under their belt, the show wrapped up.

“There was no encore probably because they have no other songs,” said a friend. “It was one of the shortest shows I’ve seen in a long time.”

But a short set list seemed a small price to hear Purity Ring perform tracks that I’ll continue to have on repeat.

Why? Because it sounds like sex between hipsters and robots. And I’m into that.

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