Purity Ring + AGOR @ Cafe Dekcuf (05-23-12)

Tonight really solidified my desire to continue pursuing a naive transformation into full-time music experiencer. Damn the man, because the man has shitty headphones and no time to pursue life’s passion – of which mine is (live) music. Ok that may be a little bit harsh.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts and live gigs. LOTS. I don’t mean that in a “No Big Deal” kind of way… In comparison, Purity Ring and AGOR was a completely unique show that transcended anything I had seen before. Cafe Dekcuf provided a perfect (tiny) venue through which to experience their music.

Purity Ring is on the indie label 4AD, along with acclaimed artists such as The National, Grimes, Bon Iver, Deerhunter – to name a few. I had heard of them last year while rummaging through The Hype Machine, and since their songs such as Lofticries and Belispeak have been amongst the most blogged music peaking in the top 10. Out of all the songs I had heard on there, Purity Ring was different. Their melancholic undertones hit me in a way that most other music out there doesn’t. The only word to describe it is haunting – an adjective that doesn’t normally bear positive connotation – haunting in a way that if you put your headphones on and crank the volume up, you can’t take them off.

Being a huge fan of bands like The National and Bon Iver got me interested and wanting more, but they only had 3 or 4 songs released at the time. This was frustrating. Luckily last month they unveiled plans to release the new track Odebear and a new album dubbed ‘Shrines’ on July 24. Leading up to a few European dates and NXNE festival in Toronto, they played tonight in Ottawa at Cafe Dekcuf. Not able to miss this opportunity, I came ready to hear a few new songs and maybe even meet them.

AGOR was the opener, I had never heard of him before. With the name AGOR, I was half expecting a hardcore death metal band to come up. Synth-electropop as he is described – his timid demeanour was quickly drowned out by his experimental bass drops and complex transitions. I kind of thought of him as Kid A’s nephew. His set got everyone up and dancing, which set the tone for Purity Ring. After he finished I spoke with him – an extremely nice, gentle dude – he told me a bit about Arbutus Records and a few bands he has been listening to.

Purity Ring came on and instantly put the sold-out show into a trance. Hearing them play their bone-chilling songs live – with cool light show in operation – was surreal. There was something eerily reminiscent of the song Teardrop by Massive Attack to me, everyone just watching as Corin played the bass with lanterns and Megan flawlessly navigated strange and complicated vocal parts. The new songs were very impressive, but only gave a taste of what’s to come on the new album. Still frustrating. Can’t wait. I spoke to Corin briefly after about the album release and thanked them for making a stop in Ottawa.

This was one to remember, and something tells me that next time Purity Ring plays in Ottawa, the venue might have to have a slightly larger capacity.