Perfume Genius Dan's Silverleaf Monday, March 26
"Thank you for being sad," Mike Hadreas said last night. "Thank you for staying sad throughout the whole show."
Fine, you got me. I've been on a sad music kick lately, and seeing the Seattle singer and pianist at Dan's was just the sort of morose experiment I wanted to continue. Earlier in the night, I'd been listening to Peter Jefferies and Harry Nilsson, two artists who use piano to different melancholy ends. It really all started after seeing Fiona Apple two weeks ago at Stubb's, from the moment she shouted, "You're imaginary!" to the crowd.
That was all I needed to hear. I went back and listened to her 1996 debut Tidal again last weekend, and I remember exactly the pain I was in circa 1998, when that album was my solace. How often can you say that about an album? It was like muscle memory, years and versions of myself later. I remember the weight. And maybe every once in a while, we like to take on that weight again, to remind us where we are now.
And maybe that's what works for Mike Hadreas. His voice on latest Perfume Genius album Put Your Back N 2 It is full of that emotional weight. Hadreas and Apple both have that way of making a devastating statement or revealing a painful truth with just a few lines and a melody. You can tell they're uncomfortable being onstage, but that it's also therapy.
On stage at Dan's, he looked anxious and a bit skittish, but often his voice was the only thing filling the room. His is a physical manifestation of memory, too. He would twitch or shake his head when singing a line, as if reliving it along with us. He seemed more comfortable when his boyfriend and co-keyboardist, Alan Wyffels, sat beside him on the bench, and they took on the appearance of Siamese twins.
After each song, including an incredible rendition of "Hood," he'd scan the room to make sure we were all still with him. I wondered if he was imagining we were imaginary. The final song, which just featured him and the piano, brought the tears out of eye jail, which was perhaps what I went there for.
Notebook dump: I could see a Perfume Genius song being featured on a new teen drama, maybe in a scene where someone survives an overdose.
By the way: Openers Parenthetical Girls, and mainly singer Zac Pennington, used every inch of Dan's for their arch electronic revue. At one point, he took his mic in the bathroom and sang an entire song.