Purity Ring at St John at Hackney Church
The title of this concert could be misconstrued. The etymology of Purity Ring harks back to chastity bands worn by wholesome American teens to promote sexual abstinence. With this in mind, and the knowledge that this Canadian music duo were performing in a church, it seemed questionable whether alcohol would even be served. This was a foolish concern: the bar was heaving and beer supplies diminished before the band had even stepped onstage.
Megan James’s haunting vocals were punctuated throughout by expertly timed drum beats and periods of emotive silence building to crescendos during which the entire church was bathed in colour. Corin Roddick’s manipulation of light and sound, on his individually crafted drum kit, added an epic element to the evening.
Formed in 2010, James and Roddick have hand-crafted their own costumes and a quirky drum kit consisting of suspended egg-shaped orbs. This all makes sense when you hear that they are described as creators of “dream pop” and “witch house” music.
Witch house music in a church? Despite the darkness that their lyrics are infused with, the setting at St John at Hackney complemented the music perfectly. The venue added to the ethereal nature of the performance; lights cascaded over tomb stones, candelabras and the imposing church organ. Whether the crowd was overwhelmed by the cavernous pillared ceilings, or whether the soundscape was too dream-like, is unclear, but people remained resolutely still as they watched the stage. Recognisable singles such as Belispeak and Obedear surprisingly failed to cause a stir. Their cover of Soulja Boy’s Grammy filled the nave with the resoundingly unsure lyrical questioning: “Is it not good enough? Am I not good enough?” Here, James seemed to be demanding an answer from the crowd, her voice drowning in the percussion as she emotively sang: “Tell me what do you want from me”.
Only with their last song, the much-lauded Fineshrine, was the audience eventually ready to celebrate: kissing, clapping and dancing in unison. This was the song that they were waiting for. Upon its completion Purity Ring dimmed the lights and just like that, having been given the answer that they were waiting for in Grammy, and with no encore, they were gone.
For further information and future events visit Purity Ring’s website here.
Watch the video for Fineshrine here: