Look out, look out, for the man who came in with little fanfare and left just as unassumingly not too long after. For that brief hour or less, Mike Hadreas – performing as Perfume Genius – was laid bare for all, his music an intimate, knotted struggle. As in their recorded versions in his debut album Learning, the songs all sounded too short and ended too abruptly, drawing out each time an awkward pause before the applause. But Hadreas knows awkwardness well enough to let those moments linger, keeping the tension going with an audience probably more nervious than he.
As the opener, “Perry” was an apt introduction to the tormented world of Perfume Genius, of memories haunted and still raw. Captivatingly, Hadreas worked hard in each of the subsequent songs to present the dark as beautiful, with the deeply personal “Learning” and “Mr. Peterson” garnering the most unanimous response from a 100-strong crowd that was mostly appreciative but at times dumbstruck. For me, it was the brittle cry and grippingly bare piano of “Look Out, Look Out” that struck hardest, that unsettled wariness remaining even as the bar started to clear and the evening to close. – Dan.