Concert Review: Purity Ring w/ Blue Hawaii @ The WECC

>> Friday, 3 May 2013

Purity Ring w/ Blue Hawaii
Wednesday, May 1st
The West End Cultural Centre
Winnipeg, MB

It’s been a banner year for Canadian electro-pop band Purity Ring.  They began making waves in 2011 when a steady drip of songs were picked up and hyped online by Pitchfork, and have gone on to garner buzz at SxSW and, more recently, a high-billed slot at Coachella.  Their July 2012 debut record Shrines was hotly anticipated and did not disappoint, receiving near universal plaudits from across the blogosphere.

Blue Hawaii kicked off the evening. Despite releasing an underwhelming sophomore record, Untogether, earlier this year, its set was altogether more expansive and developed and earned a warm reception from the audience. And a highly rare encore song (from an opener!). Look for vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston to return to her other project Braids soon; the follow-up record to Native Speakers will be released later this year.

Finally, came Purity Ring. Making its second stop at the West End in less than a year, it is evident Purity Ring has cultivated an impressive live show, which revolves around a multimedia, translucent-paper-cocoon-lantern light show.  It was a long developed project in which they sought to both create a more interactive audience experience and make themselves feel more comfortable on stage.  It presented itself nicely on Wednesday night, in a well-versed and tight 45-minute set that spanned its debut plus a cover.  Throughout, Roddick conducted musical proceedings while James drifted around stage and evoked a séance medium persona amidst the shimmering cocoons and smoke.

Maybe one of the reasons that Purity Ring has achieved such success is owing to the different aural spheres that both Roddick and James are working from.  Roddick creates sounds that have a sweet otherworldly aura with elements of R n’ B and these stylings fuse brilliantly with James’ delicate and highly literate vocals.

The capacity crowd at the West End certainly agreed.

-Will Burton


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