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Concert Review | Purity Ring engages crowd at House of Blues

Electro-Indie band is on its way to the top

Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:02

Electric. The rock star is as dead as a doornail, and we as listeners are left to sift through its ashes, hoping and praying to stumble across bands like Purity Ring.

Wednesday night at the House of Blues, Purity Ring brought its own unique brand of nightmare indietronica to Boston with fantastic showmanship — indietronica being a new genre that combines indie, electronica, rock and pop to create a fantastical amalgamation. Touring to promote its first and only album, Purity Ring’s set ran for one unbelievable hour. The Canadian duo epitomizes the possibilities of new age music in this technological era. While Corin Roddick mans a handmade rig of light-up drum pads and DJ equipment, singer Megan James authoritatively takes center stage.

From the opening song “Amenamy,” James made sure everyone knew that the night was going to be nothing but an electronic house party. Lucky for all of us, the “house” that was originally supposed to be the Middle East was switched to the House of Blues, a sign that this band is on its way up. And while the scene has changed over the years, it was hard not to see James as a modern opera singer as she stood in front of a colossal red curtain and belted out their only cover of the night, Soulja Boy’s “Grammy.” Hump day quickly became thump day as Roddick’s synthesized bass rattled every brick in the building and every bone in the audience’s collective body.

Critics of the electronic genre may reduce it to button-pushing, but Roddick clearly has a strong musical background as he pushes those buttons like David Gilmour or Jimmy Page would play guitar. Credit must be given to Purity Ring for creating its own unique sound in today’s musical age. With song titles like “Crawlersout” and “Obedear,” the nightmare genre tag Purity Ring encompasses really begins to capture its listeners.

Purity Ring’s existence reflects a fundamental change in the structure of a traditional concert. From the ‘60s until the early 2000s, everyone was always fighting to get as close to the stage as humanly possible. This is not the case today. Standing too close to the stage now detracts from one’s ability to fully absorb the act and the music. Touring, rather than album sales, is what puts bread on the table for today’s performing artist — therefore the spectacle of the show must be worth seeing.

In this regard, Purity Ring’s show looks like something extracted from a David Lynch movie. Twenty to 30 mesmerizing orbs lit up in different colors above the stage enhanced the effect that the music had on its audience. These days, instead of guitar gods we get dramatic DJs, and Roddick definitely does not disappoint.

The young crowd ranged from couples that are probably frequent visitors to Pitchfork.com, to hip-hop kids undoubtedly present to see the opener Young Magic. The differences in the audience quickly became null, however, as the music reverberated and the head banging and dancing began. For Purity Ring, the show clearly hinged on three songs: the aforementioned opener, “Lofticries” and the “Fineshrine.” Not surprisingly, these songs are the most accessible to today’s audience.

The one negative aspect of the show would probably be the few moments in which the sound strongly resembled the chanting of the monks from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975). Regardless, Purity Ring has a devoted fan base that was capable of packing the House of Blues and that is growing larger and larger everyday. Either the planets were aligned or Al Gore is not as insane as everyone thinks because a sixty-degree warm night at the end of January in Boston was the first sign that this show was going to be success.

Much like the unseasonably warm night, the performance was like nothing this city has ever seen. Take note, now, everyone, because this band is going to get bigger, and when it does we’re all going to have one hell of a dance party.

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