SAMANTHA HARDY // Both women, men and everyone between and beyond put on their best heels for the show. Dark rimmed eyes, bright lips and glitter made up the sea of individuals facing the stage waiting for Perfume Genius to start. The crowd was heavily concentrated on the ground floor. The outfits were bold and bright. Many people were here to make statements, to be themselves.
Wearing a corset, Mike Hadreas, under the moniker, Perfume Genius comes out. Hadreas stands in the middle with two men beside them and one in back on the drums. The stage was simple. It was mostly dark with deep colored lighting. It was also adorned with trees and leaves, emulating some sort of naturalistic environment, perhaps a jungle.
Hadreas, like much of his music, is quiet in the beginning— he keeps his banter to a minimum. Yet as the show continues, he grows louder and more talkative.
Perfume Genius’ performance is as much of an art as is his music. He glides across the stage, confident and strong. He moves back and forth from the mic stand in the center to a keyboard, creating music with unconventional melodies.
The nature of his music is truly that— unconventional. It’s hard to dance to which is apparent in the crowd moves. That said, the crowd isn’t trying to match the music. Everyone is shaking their body every which way to whichever beat they find, moving in different directions at different times, to different tempos. There was something quite interesting in seeing everyone in the crowd interpret his sounds differently, not caring they weren’t in sync. There was a distinct freedom felt in the crowd as Hadreas sang about his newfound freedom from the bleakness of addiction.
The stage, set up with greenery, was able to transform throughout the set. A disco ball dropped down and sparkles of lights filled the room as they danced around each and every corner, lighting up each face in the crowd.
Later, the ambiance transitioned to what I felt like would have been the senior prom Laura Palmer would have attended at her high school in Twin Peaks. The room was deep red, things got slow and heavy. The music was thick and lethargic. This served as a contrast to when Hadreas returned on stage for his encore.
Here, Hadreas sat at a keyboard and performed a duet. He then performed what is undoubtedly his biggest hit, “Queen.” Like his lyrics, “no family is safe when I sashay,” Hadreas glided across the floor elegantly and with meaning. The music was loud, almost uncomfortably loud, but it’s what such a song deserves. It deserves great power and full attention, and that is what it received. The crowd erupted and everyone sang along. This may have been the one time bodies joined together to dance to the same beat.
Live, Perfume Genius is nothing short of incredible. Hadreas, an artist in every sense of the word. He is poetic, graceful, intense and genuine. Seeing Perfume Genius live is both a pleasure and an opportunity to covet.