When it comes to electronic music, I’ll be the first to admit; I can be a bit of a snob. I get very particular about how prevalent bass is, how long the song is and if it’s too repetitive. I had heard only a bit of Purity Ring before , mostly things from their first album. They were good, but something was missing from them for me. It was a nice mix of ambient and dance, but somehow never fully floored me.
Needless to say, my expectations were about lukewarm walking into the Uptown Theater in downtown Kansas City. I expected about as much as I had heard on their albums. As I and others made our way into the dark concert hall, I waited for the concert to begin. Soon, a man walked on stage and began playing what can only be described as the world’s strangest percussion instrument. Each “drum”, when hit produced a different chord, almost mimicking a xylophone solo to start off the show.
As this progressed into the first song I immediately sensed something was different about this concert compared to their albums, and it wasn’t just the concert-goers who wouldn’t put down their phones. There was an impressive amount of low end to the songs, something not very prevalent on their studio tracks. While this is something that might not seem like a very large difference, it definitely helped to make the music a lot more enjoyable for a new listener such as myself. It certainly made the songs more easy to dance to and the crowd definitely showed this.
Though the change in song style helped to create a better impression of the group, the stunning visuals also helped to boost the band’s image arguably even more. In the beginning, what seemed like simple strobing strings of lights turned into a multi colored, highly coordinated display that became just as much a part of the show as the group itself. On top of all of this, new instruments would be added to the show every few songs, such as the giant circle in the center backdrop of the stage being used as a drum pad to great affection from the crowd. All of these things together made for a show that definitely kept its audience engaged and interested, a quality that is hard to find in some of the concerts of the same genre.
I went into Purity Ring unsure, but by the end I was convinced. Despite my initial feelings about their studio recordings, the concert left me convinced that I was wrong about this Canadian duo. It definitely gave me a new appreciation for their work and I highly recommend witnessing one of their shows firsthand if you get the chance.
Photo credit: Cody Boston