by Michael McCarthy
Back in 2011 sister duo Puro Instinct rolled into town and played Great Scott in Allston, Massachusetts, which is considered part of greater Boston. I remember only hearing that they’d been to town after the fact and being really disappointed that I hadn’t known about it, as I would have made every attempt to get there, being madly in love with their dream pop masterpiece Headbangers in Ecstasy. Fortunately, I was finally able to catch them this past Sunday night, July 3rd, 2016, when they returned to Great Scott.
I’m not sure if Puro – as most fans simply call them – were headlining or opening when they played Allston in 2011. This time around they were supporting Fear of Men, as second on the bill after Mini-Dresses. If I had it my way, they would have been headlining, but they’re one of my favorites, so of course I’m going to say that.
Sunday night’s show was one of the latest concerts I’d been to in years. It was advertised to start at 9, whereas most Boston shows start between 7 and 8. I thought doors would open at 8, but things were running late, as often happens, so doors weren’t until around 9:20 and it was a good 20 minutes before Boston’s Mini Dresses hit the stage. I don’t know exactly how long they played, but I found their set to be highly enjoyable, which is saying something because I was feeling somewhat exhausted before they started playing, making me especially eager to see Puro already; anyone playing beforehand was likely to be an annoyance. Suffice to say, that’s easily how I could have felt about Mini Dresses, but their unique blend of indie and dream pop was a lot of fun and had me swaying from side to side on the stool where I was sitting; I can’t stand up for whole shows for reasons I won’t bore you with. There really could not have been a better act to light a firecracker and invigorate the audience before Puro hit the stage.
It was only around 10 minutes after Mini Dresses that Puro took to the stage. Piper exclaimed “Panarchy!” and they wasted no time before they launched into the song of the same name. Unlike the other songs on Autodrama, the duo’s recently released sophomore album, “Panarchy” is largely an instrumental, mostly consisting of Piper speaking the word “panarchy” several times throughout the track until she sings a bit during the song’s final 45 seconds or so. It’s like a cross between the trippy, new DJ Shadow album and the ethereal Puro Instinct of their debut album. From there, Piper half-jokingly asked the audience to buy them Patron and sodas before they went into “Tell Me,” their Blondie-esque recent single, one of the year’s best pop songs so far, blending catchy guitar and vocal hooks with hazy keyboards and punchy drum beats. Then again, that’s a description that would be suitable for all of the songs on Autodrama. Even “Panarchy,” which you might consider an intro track, is highly infectious.
Next up was “Peccavi,” the title being Latin for “I have sinned.” “I guess when it’s all said and done / I should throw it away,” Piper sang with an air of melancholy. It’s easily one of the most haunting tunes in their catalog and it sounded as emotive live as it does on the album. There wasn’t a whole lot of melancholy in their set though; it was mostly dazzling and fun.
Another highlight was Duran Duran-esque (in my opinion) “Six of Swords,” a song named after the tarot card of the same name, which I mention because I actually had a tarot card reading done by Piper after their set. For that reason, I really can’t say much about Fear of Men’s performance, but I did catch the last three songs, and they sounded wonderful.
So, yes, Piper and Skylar were both offering tarot card readings among the things fans could buy, which included rare vinyl copies of their debut EP and Headbangers in addition to T-shirts and Autodrama on CD (vinyl coming soon). They were only charging 10 bucks for tarot card readings, so how could I resist? I was especially psyched to get one from Piper because we’d talked a bit about tarot cards and related things when I interviewed her, so I had no doubt that she knows her way around a tarot deck. I won’t comment on the details of my reading because that’s personal, but she was as knowledgeable about the tarot deck as the one full-time, professional psychic I saw a few months back. Believe me, Piper had plenty of interesting things to say and the cards were quite fitting. I would definitely recommend that you see Puro live and that you get a reading from her when she comes to your town.
Special thanks to Piper for putting me on the guest list and giving me such a great tarot card reading!
My apologies for not having better photos. My professional camera photos didn’t come out because it was so dark in the club. Fortunately, I had thought to take a few photos with my Kindle, so we at least have these!