Last Thursday, Montreal-based electronic duo Purity Ring capped off their extensive North American tour with a visit to one of my all-time favorite venues, the basement of Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church. The basement’s small size and intimate atmosphere never fail to create a totally unique live music experience, where the barrier between performer and audience is diminished in a way that would be impossible in a larger, more commercial setting. The anticipation surrounding Purity Ring’s Philly show was palpable, as the concert sold out quickly and eager fans could be seen lining up well before the doors opened.
The night kicked off with a bang as up-and-coming openers Headaches and Evian Christ quickly amplified the crowd’s already high energy level by delivering short, but very sweet, opening sets laced with booming hip-hop bass and ethereal, breathy vocal samples.
Purity Ring’s popularity and notoriety is flourishing in the wake of their most recent release, April’s critically acclaimed Shrines LP. While their discography is still fairly limited (Shrines being their first commercial release), they compensated for the relative lack of material by adding a few striking visual elements to their performance. Their unique light setup even included interactive lanterns attached to Corin Roddick’s DJ booth that illuminated as he played them like a drum set.
Purity Ring confidently moved through their debut album in front of the highly receptive crowd and performed like veterans despite their young age. Roddick and singer Megan James certainly appeared to be comfortable in their new role as headlining artists, and for their efforts they received quite an ovation at the show’s conclusion. A few personal highlights included hearing my favorites “Obedear” and “Fireshrine,” but from start to finish, Purity Ring was an all-around captivating and satisfying concert experience.
— Written by Mike Beitcher, photos by Claire Fishkow