An iconic Melbourne landmark, the Corner Hotel is intimate, gritty and seductive – a perfect venue to showcase unbridled talent. Purity Ring’s mix of synth pop and post dubstep therefore seemed destined for the Corner, as they showed in an uninhibited performance last Friday. Like the Corner, Purity Ring shared an intimate connection with their audience. Megan James’ enigmatic vocals coupled with Corin Roddick’s peculiar tree-shaped synthesiser made for an innovative and haunting performance. The synthesiser, which also acted as percussion, drove both light and sound, engulfing the bandroom in sensory overload.
Purity Ring’s use of aesthetics made for an expressive performance; there was a definite sense in which some of the lighting was calculated for a specific purpose. For example, when singing, James’ face was often clouded in darkness, forcing the audience to focus on her voice. Her tone was eerie and child-like, yet hypnotic, and there was a subtle desperation in her body language, as if she was crying out for someone. This was complemented by Roddick’s futuristic beats, creating a thrilling, yet seductive nightmare. When James’ wasn’t facing the audience, she was rhythmically beating a steel drum which lit up each time it was struck. James also got into the routine of waving a light bulb as she moved across the stage. Whether these were orchestrated as a means of symbolising fecundity, or just simply decorative additions, both choices never failed to capture the audience.
Although the name ‘Purity Ring’ inspires themes like chastity, virtue and inexperience, the duo’s performance was anything but frigid. With Roddick’s developed and unique sound and James’ enticing and abstract vocals (“Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you”), the audience were welcomed into a strange psychedelic world of hypnotic lullabies and experimental trance.