Purity Ring have risen so quickly in popularity that their first-ever headlining show in Minneapolis was upgraded from the 7th St. Entry to First Avenue’s Mainroom and managed to still nearly sell out.
On Friday night, they played their entire catalog of songs with spectacular light-up cocoons dangling overhead and drums that flashed to their booming beats. They looked perfect, they sounded perfect. So why was it ultimately a mediocre show?
For starters, it didn’t help that their entire catalog of songs only spans about 40 minutes. And there was no banter from stage and no encore, making that window of time feel even shorter and less consequential. While they did their best to accentuate their music with stage props, like a giant bass drum that pulsed when it was hit and a collection of paper lanterns that were set off with drum sticks, it became repetitive and did little to add to what was effectively a set of pre-recorded music with live vocals.
There are many electronic musicians who have figured out ways to transcend their digital confines and create a captivating live experience; Grimes is a recent example, as are acts like Sleigh Bells and Phantogram. But the two members of Purity Ring, singer Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick, did little to engage the audience and seemed to be sinking deeper and deeper inward as the show progressed. And their fantastical stage props, though creatively constructed, only served to further drown them out and underscore the notion that they might not yet be comfortable playing such a large stage.
All is not lost, however, as Purity Ring clearly have potential. James’ vocals were crystalline and note-perfect, and Roddick’s approach to cobbling together synthetic dreamscapes and rhythmic clanging was intriguing for the first few songs, before the lull of repetition set in. Once they’ve logged more miles on tour, the group’s stage show could hopefully evolve into something more on par with the quality of their otherworldly debut record, Shrines.