REVIEW: Purity Ring at The Pabst Theater
Performing electronic music live can often be tricky to pull off effectively. The notion of pre-programmed sound in a “live” setting almost sounds counter-intuitive, and more importantly, can look stagnant if done poorly. On Wednesday night at the Pabst Theater, Purity Ring did electronic in the most entertaining way possible. In a word, the show was a spectacle, to say the least. Even the changeover time between opener Lydia Ainsworth and the headliner was somewhat of a build-up to the show that would eventually take over the evening, with an occasional puff of smoke or flash of the beaded lights that elicited slight roars from the crowd.
As the lights dimmed, and vocalist Megan James made her way through the beads to center stage, there were cheers so loud that the bass-heavy production of Corin Roddick was almost inaudible. As the duo launched into material from their debut, “Shrines”, the crowd was in awe of the production onstage, both musically and visually. Roddick beat plastic crystals to the melody of the group’s addicting synths. James navigated the strings of lights and the platforms at the front of the stage with wonder. Everything illuminated in sequence. It was impressive, to say the least.
While Roddick’s well-crafted production scored the evening, it was James who took center stage throughout the night. She moved with fluidity to every track, and delivered strong vocals that were assisted by the crowd at times. In fact, the crowd was in her hands all evening, becoming eerily silent when she talked to the Pabst Theater audience. The night progressed to involve more material from “Another Eternity”, the record Purity Ring are currently in support of. Tracks like “Bodyache” and “Push Pull” were fan favorites, and the up-tempo “Stranger Than Earth” can move any room during their set.
There were rarely moments where the flurry of Roddick’s MPC and James’ powering harmonies took a pause. James only briefly addressed the crowd, telling them that she felt like they were very close to her, likely a departure from the numerous summer festivals which the group will play this summer. There was also time for the two to take things down a notch, as “Stillness In Woe” was accented by a special light rig and James’ reflecting the light into the crowd with glass covered gloves. Things escalated back up towards the end of the night, with closers “Fineshrine” and “Begin Again” finishing the show. James explained that they never play encores, much to the dismay of the crowd, but the duo went out with a bang. Much like a great rollercoaster ride, this was a show that immediately made you want to do it all over again. Go see Purity Ring any chance you get. It is definitely worth every second of your time, and they will not disappoint.