I was very happy to have Purity Ring be my first concert of 2013 at their first stop on this leg of their American tour, at the NYC show at Webster Hall.
A lot has changed for the duo since the first time I saw them in 2011 at CMJ: At the start of 2012 they were signed by 4AD and Last Gang Records, and in July of that year they released their stellar debut album, Shrines.
The difference was even clear from their stage setup – still the same arrangement — “percussions” on the left side of the stage for Corin Roddick, and a bass-drum type instrument that singer Megan James occasionally beats — but this time suspended from the ceiling were creepy/ethereal light cocoons that would light up in sync with the music.
The synth machine setup itself had gotten more elaborate, moving from a handy-man special of pipes and tubes, to a more sophisticated set of individual lanterns.
I’ve always been impressed by how no-nonsense and professional Purity Ring have been despite the band’s young age. As per usual, their show went off with not so much as a hitch — with Ms. James commanding the stage with her sweet, yet somehow powerful disposition. Diminutive in stature, with some of the tiniest hands I’ve ever seen, she often elegantly swiped her hand across the stage, as if to cast some sort of magical spell on the audience. When she wasn’t doing that, she’d sway up and down, ball-heeling herself to the beat, or grabbing a portable work light with a metal guard and holding it above and below her face for dramatic effect.
They also performed a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” — giving the rap tune a totally new spin. Loved this version!:
Brooklyn band (and CMJ 2011 TMA fave) Young Magic also performed, although my enjoyment of their performance was severely hampered by the unbelievable bass-heavy sound system at Webster Hall, which literally had me dry heaving b/c my vocal cords were bouncing against one another with every surge of Young Magic’s drum machine. If you stand front and center at the main stage of that venue, and the band happens to be bass heavy, you are in for a world of pain. Every time a song would start and the bass kicked in, my stomach would hold on to the rest of my body for dear life. I kept thinking – “I don’t want to die at Webster Hall!” (Can someone, for the love of god, fix that sound system?)