SXSW 2012: Grimes, Purity Ring, and Charli XCX at Central Presbyterian Church

words by Ian Jones | photo by Leah Garass | Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


After dinner on Thursday, March 15th, I headed to the Central Presbyterian Church, first catching two songs by Charli XCX. Her gothic, electro ’80s mashup style went over well with the crowd, as her song “The End of the World” seemed especially poignant as we all sat motionless in the pews. This venue clearly had the best acoustics of the entire SXSW festival, and Charli XCX’s hyperactive sexy glam rock look and British voice was pushed to the absolute maximum. She danced about in huge boots, spinning her hair as her vocals  echoed and bounced off the walls.

Next up was the Purity Ring. It took them a long time to set up and switch off all of the lights inside the church. The duo performed in the dark, as Corin and Megan danced and occasionally carried a small lantern. Their synths and samplers were connected to six bright lights arranged in a manner that looked like alien spider legs, changing colors throughout the songs. The Purity Ring’s full blown dance beats vibrated the church — it was the perfect venue for such an eerie, dark, and intimate performance.

Headliner Claire Boucher — otherwise known as Grimes — was last up, and, like Purity Ring, performed in almost pitch-black darkness. Grimes plays what could best be described as acapella-trance-ghost-angel-step; the vocal samples and reverb filled the church with Burial-esque dance music. Though some girls mustered the courage to get up and start dancing on stage, nearly everyone remained seated throughout the set. The entire crowd could have listened to the band all night — Grimes was so into the moment she kept going until the church lights were turned on. As the music slowly died, the crowd gave a huge applause to one of the most buzz-worthy bands of the festival.

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