Aside from a few episodes of Portlandia and the drawing of continuous blanks, there isn’t much that comes to mind when I pick one singular moment out of the year and dedicate it to thinking about Oregon. All that changed when I got my complimentary press pass to see Pure Bathing Culture at the Irving Plaza.
WEDNESDAY 05/04/16 – NEW YORK, NEW YORK
I entered the venue 5 minutes prior to showtime and was immediately taken aback by how peaceful the immediate atmosphere appeared. The air just stood still, it seemed. Something had to be different about this show, unless of course, I was at the wrong venue. Not a chance. There were about one hundred people in front of the stage patiently waiting for the band to emerge. The crowd was abuzz with whispering anticipation and there were more than a few couples holding hands. I didn’t know what to make of the scene so I peacefully resigned to the fate of the next hour.
Pure Bathing Culture, despite the best and worst of my imagination, is not an organic cleansing cult. The duo, as I’ve come to learn, are Sarah Versprille (vocals/keyboard) and Daniel Hindman (guitar/keyboard). They came on stage quietly, devoid of hype but filled with emotion, and the music just came alive. Although their style could be easily described as synth pop, there seemed to be layers and dimensions to their collective sound that I couldn’t not easily define. Thank God. I found myself instantly drawn to the aquatic and dreamy harmony emanating from Hindman’s guitar. It were as if multiple sitars were reverberating into continuous nirvana, letting the audience in on a centuries old secret. Versprille’s voice was pleasant, emotional and meditatively enlightening. With the backing of drum and bass, it carried on enchantingly like a breeze through the soundscape of magnificent resonance. Two songs, which I had later identified as “Pendulum” and “Pray For Rain”, had me in genuine awe and I looked back at the hypnotized crowd which had now grown five-fold…
Fast forward one week, and my YouTube history is filled with few of the group’s songs. There is something captivating in the sound and I find myself closing my eyes and visualizing things. Is it entirely my cup of tea? I don’t know. But new music can be, as an escape from the comfort of trusted replays.