Purity Ring's sold-out show at the Orpheum last Sat., Jan. 19, was packed tightly with a crowd of mostly 20-something ladies and young couples. Definitely a femme-driven audience for the young band's first appearance in Tampa.
Brooklyn-based trio Young Magic kicked off the music, surprising the crowd with their sound collaging electronics, world drum beat samples, and at times shoe-gazey riffs. Isaac Emmanuel (keys and vocals) and Michael Italia are Australia natives, while leading lady Melati Malay hails from Indonesia. Malay's face remained shrouded in shadows the entire set, her chanted cries of "You With Air" delivered from beneath a baseball cap and carried against Italia's tribal and dance-worthy drumming. Emmanuel's pseudo rap seemed to work, especially since his voice is so effortlessly gorgeous. The track off Young Magic's first full-length, Melt (Carpark records 2012), was a highlight of the set, as was haunting lead-off track, "Sparkly."
At setbreak, one of the show's few scattered men made his way to my side, and sipped a Long Island Iced Tea as he confessed he'd driven from Orlando to see Purity Ring without having ever actually heard their music, and then felt the need to explain that he'd just been kicked out of the Ellie Goulding show for aggressively jumping the stage just two nights earlier at Orlando's Hard Rock Live. My instincts told me he'd traveled to Tampa to enjoy the overwhelming majority of young, beautiful women in attendance at these sort of shows. But, I digress.
When Montreal's electro-love child Purity Ring took the stage, it suddenly became apparent that the strange orbs hovering above the stage were part of a light show adding to the duo's very, very chill sound. Singer (and occasional percussionist) Megan James and sonic-scape master Corin Roddick mesmerized the audience, their gnawing sound reminiscent of Portishead, with restrained, wistful vocals rising amid an electronic menagerie. Roddick's homemade light-sound tree was present, each bulb-like fixture eliciting a different effect with his prompting along with a bright flash of colored light. James joined Roddick on the gadget for "Crawlersout," a dreamlike sequence with a bittersweet vibe.
James' at times awkward stage presence was annoying at first, then became rather endearing. Sometimes she seemed uncertain of what she should be doing - pacing, lingering, looking off in the distance. These moments reminded me how quickly everything happened for Purity Ring, which was just another unknown indie band putting poems to music only . Other times, James commanded the stage fearlessly, belting out "Belispeak" in femme-powerhouse vocals that would make any vet frontwoman proud.
To maintain add some oomph to their live sound, the twosome will likely need to bring a bass or guitar into the mix, more fully embrace dance-friendly tunes like "Ungirthed" and "Fineshine" to keep the momentum going and pace flowing throughout the show. Singles like 2011's "Loftcries" had the audience screaming, many mouthing along to all the lyrics, but was followed by a tune so mellow it completely deflated the energy in the room by the time they see-sawed back to a more upbeat tune, "Obedear."
But selling out a show in Tampa is no easy feat, and Purity Ring managed pull it off, and with a mere five singles and one full-length album, Shrines, that only was issued last year.
Tyler- I can't believe how talented of a writer you are. This article was beautifully…
Great interview! Give the interviewer a full time job! He's great!
The DJ was actually The Castle's very own DJ Tom Gold :)
Fabulous review Gabe! Too bad I missed it.