After the mutual show of admiration between Purity Ring and Jon Hopkins in recent months, it was perhaps inevitable that they would get together to do a couple of shows. The two acts have contributed to remixes of each other’s tracks, and while the Purity Ring duo has seen their profile increase exponentially since the release of their excellent debut album, Shrines, last year (much loved here at the LA Music Blog), Jon Hopkins remains something of a well-kept secret.
It was Hopkins, the unassuming young man from London, who opened the double bill for the first of two shows at the Fonda Theatre last week. Considering he was due to play just a handful of dates on this side of the Atlantic, this was a rare chance to see him in action, and he set about putting together a 45-minute set of compelling ebb and flow electronica. Drawing heavily from tracks off this year’s stunning Immunity, Hopkins worked hard to recreate the songs organically on stage while improvising small changes and additions using the pieces of equipment in front of him.
Hopkins’ trademark crunchy beats and warped but welcoming melodies drew the audience in, but he never lost focus of the fact that people were there to dance, and during the colossal “Collider,” he woke the Tuesday night audience out of its initial slumber and used his hypnotic take on dance music to get some feet shuffling. Interaction was limited to a few waves of acknowledgement accompanied by a smile, but this set was simply about getting lost in the music for a brief period, something that is remarkably easy to do with Jon Hopkins. This kind of exposure, along with further collaborations (Bat For Lashes has recorded a one-off single with him) will only serve to increase the visibility of this special talent.
Purity Ring’s live show has become something of a festival fixture over the last 12 months (we caught it ourselves at FYF Fest last year), and it is perfectly suited to the attractive interior of the Fonda, where the plethora of on-stage lamps and the innovative light show that Purity Ring produces become even more effective. Corin Roddick’s light-based percussion remains as strangely addictive to watch as it was when the band first started touring, and a year has also been kind to the songs from Shrines, which is improving with age and revealing itself as a uniquely seductive and unnerving group of songs.
Megan James remains a strange kind of vocalist, especially when her live vocals are chopped and looped back on themselves by Roddick after having already received a healthy dose of reverb. Considering the occasionally twisted lyrics of these songs (“Open up my sternum and pull my little ribs around you” remains one of the strangest come-on lines imaginable), watching James slowly make her way around the stage while holding a lamp up to her face and body merely accentuates the flipped fairy tale quality of the Purity Ring live show.
The set was brief due to the band’s limited repertoire, and we await their next step with baited breath, but for now, listening to an audience go wild for closer “Fineshrine” was evidence of the impact the Canadian duo has made. It’s safe to say their progression from heavily anticipated curio to concrete indie favorite is now complete.
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