Sound Track web extra: Purity Ring at the Orange Peel

Young Magic opened the Saturday night show at The Orange Peel — an evening of 80s clothing, boys in skinny jeans and studded shoes, and bass. Lots of bass. Super bass. The kind of bass that reverberates through feet and teeth. The kind if bass that fuzzes out melodies and lyrics. But Young Magic possesses the sort of melody that telegraphs through heavy bass, suggesting they’re worth further listening. (Stream their album, Melt.)

But the main event was Purity Ring, a duo (Megan James and Corin Roddick) from Canada whose lush and dreamy indie pop glittered not just through the sound system but through a glorious center-piece light show. In fact, the lights are as much of the show as the sound, as the songs. The two are intimately combined.

Photo from Tumblr by Carl Dizon.

The light setup involves interactive lamps of a sort on a table. These have touch sensors and are “played” with a stick, sending a signal to the synthesizer that tells the lamp to pulse or glow. Then, behind the band, a forest of cocoons suspended from arched metal stems rises. These, too, glow at certain points — at the Orange Peel it was near the end of the set. (Read more about Purity Ring’s light set up here.)

The lights are part of what makes Purity Ring’s show a spectacle. But James and Roddick, even without visuals, craft a huge sound. Much of the effect comes from James’s vocal — her voice is pure, high and snowy-cool. At moments she seems to dissolve into the machine-produced smoke. If freezing fog had a soundtrack, this would be it.

Photo from Tumblr by Savanna Morgan.

Which is not to say that Purity Ring (despite the austere name) is not romantic. In fact, the combination of beats and beauty proved to be an aphrodisiac. Making out was endemic; boys in matching flannel shirts press against each other. The force of sheer longing in the room created its own gravitational pull.

Purity Ring played an album-long set; during the finale, James beat a suspended bass drum, further rocking the crowd with rhythm. And then, just like that, it was over. No encore, houselights up, making out screeching to a halt. But still, something of the shimmery beauty remained like glitter in the air as the crowd filed out of the venue.


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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