Perfume Genius

Johnny Brenda's presents

Perfume Genius


Thu, October 11, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:15 pm


This event is 21 and over

All shows are 21+ Proper I.D. required for admission

Perfume Genius - (Set time: 10:30 PM)
Perfume Genius
Over the course of two astonishing albums, Perfume Genius, aka Seattle native Mike Hadreas, cemented his place as a singer-songwriter of rare frankness, creating songs that, while achingly emotional, offered empathy and hope, rather than any judgment or handwringing. Sparse, gorgeous and with Hadreas’ quavering vocals often only accompanied by piano, they were uncommonly beautiful tales of a life lived on the dark side – scarred, brutalised, yet ultimately, slowly but surely reclaimed.

“Too Bright”, however, is something else altogether. Less self-conscious, and less concerned with storytelling and easily-digested melodies, it is a brave, bold, unpredictably quixotic exploration of what Hadreas calls “an underlying rage that has slowly been growing since ten and has just begun to bubble up”. Recorded with Adrian Utley of Portishead and featuring John Parish on several tracks, it is a stunning about-face which brings to mind audacious career-shift albums like Kate Bush’s The Dreaming or Scott Walker’s Tilt, records which walk the tightrope between pure songwriting and overt experimentation.

The fragile yet defiant “I Decline” opens the album, draped in hushed, languorous beauty, but it is an outlier. The next line you hear after that however, on the following track (and first single) “Queen”, are the words “Don’t you know your queen?” boomed out over ominous keyboards. This is not so much a genuine question as a rhetorical one, as Hadreas deconstructs gay panic with relish, singing “no family is safe, when I sashay” before the chorus explodes into a gloriously cacophonous symphony of synths and vocals. It is both the most anthemic work Hadreas has done so far but also his most perverse, a gleeful kiss off to what he describes as “faces of blank fear when I walk by…if these fucking people want to give me some power – if they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggles – well, here she comes”.

Similarly, a surreal threat hangs over songs like “My Body” and “Grid”, with piercing screams, tribal drums and electronic stabs highlighting disturbing lyrics of self-destruction and temporary respite from the darkness. On “Fool” meanwhile, swinging doo-wop rhythms disguise a story of social mutiny, with Hadreas tearing into the stereotype of “a walking, talking candelabra”, and rejecting it for something much more volatile and dangerous.

Which is not to say that Hadreas has completely abandoned the shimmering, exquisite piano ballads that he is so known for. “No Good” is a heartbreaking meditation on a difficult life lived on the outside but “spent looking in”, while the somber closer “All Along” is a resigned yet firm rebuke to acceptance and reassurance from external forces, preferring instead to find refuge from within. This, in fact, is the overarching theme of “Too Bright”; the connective tissue joining up these 11 stunning, weird and wonderful tracks – the discovery of strength and power where previously Hadreas felt he had little. As he himself puts it, during the making of the album “like i had woken some ancient beast which began to rattle and threaten to rise”.
Dusted - (Set time: 9:15 PM)
After six years of constant HOLY FUCK touring, Brian Borcherdt emerged from the tangled wires and broken drum machines with a new offering of songs, a stripped down presentation, disguised under the name DUSTED. The disguise is fitting. The songs maintain a fuzzy glow beyond a thin veil of dust and distortion. All songs were committed live by playing electric guitar and singing through a tiny overblown Marshall practice amp. The songs were then left to their own ghosts, slowly to be taken by subtle string arrangements, hidden guitar feedback, distorted drum machines, and the occasional backbone of a full band.

Brian Borcherdt has already found a devoted cult following through previous solo releases, such as Coyotes and the Moth EP, and found international acclaim through his polar opposite Holy Fuck. With Dusted he finds a fitting middle ground, unencumbered by the trappings of a solo singer/songwriter while offering something more lasting and personal than performance-based experimentation.

Dusted came into focus in a small converted garage in Toronto through the helping hands of Leon Taheny, while a couple of songs crept up from a cabin in rural Nova Scotia. A near year from its completion, the ten song record will come to life May 2012 on Hand Drawn Dracula.
Venue Information:
Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA, 19125