This Saturday, innovative musical artist Perfume Genius performed a live stream concert following the May release of his fifth studio album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. The record is an autobiographical allusion to queerness, addictions and love, to name a few themes. Perfume Genius, otherwise known as 39-year old, LA-based Mike Hadreas, executed a high-quality live stream as he debuted intimate songs in a grand and glorious virtual experience.
Appearing center-stage for the opening track “Your Body Changes Everything,” Hadreas is encircled by the band as blue fog cascades around his body. The track is formed around an ’80ss-disco drum beat, decorated with the production magic of Alan Wyffels, who happens to be Hadreas’ collaborator and long-term partner on the synthesizer—an instrument of necessity for the entire record.
Live musicians are crucial for Perfume Genius, whose shows are characteristically cinematic; “Without You,” a subdued tune with a mellow electric guitar progression, features a line of live string players (masks on!), contributing to the song’s instrumental dynamic. A true work of art, “Describe” is sublime, layered with distorted, contrasting sounds that blend together in ironic bliss. Heavy reverb takes over the first half of the track, drowning out Hadreas’ voice during the verses; the chorus offers a bit more clarity of sound, but the true release of the song arrives at the latter half. The instruments fade and Hadreas is at once isolated with lush synth sounds as his voice hums at an inaudible whisper.
“On the Floor” is the record’s pop centerpiece, with electric guitar and synthesizer mixing to produce an eclectic, bouncy riff throughout, and a groovy bassline. The song is so sonically joyful it seems to disguise the lyrics, a testament to the pain that comes with yearning. Hadreas bops to a pop beat while simultaneously belting the words, “I cross out his name on the page/ I just want him in my arms.” On the other hand, “Alan,” showcasing Perfume Genius solo on the keyboard, does not disguise any detail of emotion. “You need me/ Rest easy/ I’m here/ How weird,” Hadreas voice cries in a shuddering falsetto. Named after his partner, “Alan” is an intimate love ballad detailing the strange reality that is being safe in love.
A radio hit, “Slip Away” is fantastical and lively; Hadreas swirls around the stage for the crashing bridge, which incorporates a wide variety of live instrumentals. “Otherside” is another sensational hit, starting off as a light piano tune with multi-layered vocals, progressing into a shimmery bridge that provides a feeling of transcendence.
For “My Body,” a heavy intro bassline fades to an intense mid-tempo tune with instrumentals draped with reverb and warped vocals that detail strange bodily metaphors such as, “I wear my body like a rotted peach.” Perfume Genius’ finale track is “Queen,” a sensational queer anthem that mocks the steretypical prejudice of gay behavior by embracing the lyrics, “Don’t you know your queen?/ Cracked, peeling/ Riddled with disease/ Don’t you know me?/ No family is safe when I sashay.”
Like the credits to a coming-of-film, the live stream concludes as Perfume Genius himself sashays off the stage while the band plays on. The camera follows as Hadreas swiftfully catches an elevator away from the show, head tilted toward the sky, alone and relishing in all his glory.
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