Tucson fans were finally able to experience Perfume Genius’ fifth studio album, “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” live Sept. 16, at Club Congress, as well as various favorites from his discography. Perfume Genius was accompanied by his band and opener, Hand Habits, who all collectively created the dreamlike concert experience that Perfume Genius is so well known for.
The man behind Perfume Genius is Michael Alden Hadreas, a Seattle native who is openly gay, but has struggled with society's lack of acceptance. His music explores this, as well as his struggle with Crohn's disease and domestic abuse.
“I’ve never seen someone perform queerness in such a profound and honest way, not just with lyrics and instrumentals, but also dance,” concert-goer Meg Denny said.
Denny’s description is not far off from the experience last night; in the open outside space of Club Congress attendees were engulfed in soft shades of colorful light imbued with Perfume Genius’ alluring vocals and pop-rock instrumentation. At the center of it all was his stage presence, flipping between fun jives to a sensual and careful movement.
Every move is meticulous, creating a performance that feels like watching living, breathing art.
“I think his music is very defiant,” Denny said, “It’s very much like ‘I’m going to be who I am,’ and often plays on the stereotypes that queer people face and throws it in the face of heteronormativity.”
Zackary Woolstenhulme, a history student at the University of Arizona, agreed that what attracted him to Perfume Genius was his flamboyant and somber expression of his queerness.
“I’m gay and a musician myself, so I find it appealing that he brings this stance and position to the industry,” Woolstenhulme admired.
Clear representation of queer voices is not only important in terms of relatability, but also adding nuances to ongoing conversations.
“Any sort of representation is positive, and if people can identify with him or his music, that’s a good thing,” Sophia Zouzoulas, a third-year law student at the University of Arizona, said.
Meg Duffy, better known by their stage name, Hand Habits, was also a person to note as the concert’s opener.
Duffy’s soft vocals are reminiscent of Perfume Genius, however their instrumentation felt more familiar and warmer, a contrast to Perfume Genius’ almost alien-like exploration of sound.
RELATED: Staying safe at night: A short guide
Both Perfume Genius and Hand Habits were fun to watch not only performance-wise, but personally as well. Both were not afraid to have fun and crack a few jokes with the audience in between sets, bringing some light to an otherwise emotionally moving atmosphere.
Club Congress certainly lives up to its reputation and cradled the concert wonderfully, the outdoor venue is full of life. The excitement of downtown fed into the overall energy, but the venue was just far enough from everything that it felt as though the concert had its own little corner amidst all the craziness. The smallness of the space also added a familiarity to the environment, making it feel less like a concert and more like a small party among friends.
Overall Perfume Genius’ live show was a profound and brave display of the inner workings of Michael Alden Hadreas, with pieces that everyone could find solace in. His concert serves as a reminder of just how many dimensions music can go when performed live.
Follow Allison Fagan on Twitter