"It's very depressing and slow, don't get too excited."
It's been three years since Perfume Genius, the alter ego of Seattle local Mike Hadreas' musical output, ventured to Australia.
On the back of 2017's No Shape, the American brought his theatrical performance to Marrickville's Factory Theatre with Adelaide's Lonelyspeck and Melbourne's Totally Mild in tow.
One-man band Sione Teumohenga, aka Lonelyspeck, opened the show, supplying pre-recorded sounds mixed with his live guitar and vocals. The experimental soundscapes and bass-driven songs had the few early attendees swaying with Teumohenga's soft and often soulful singing masked through an array of effects.
Taking a leaf from the dream pop genre, four-piece Totally Mild seemed a somewhat strange fit on the bill. The night marked the band's first show since the release of their latest album, Her. Led by singer Elizabeth Mitchell, Totally Mild offered a polished set of jangly guitars, airy vocals and an onstage energy best described by their own moniker.
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With the string-heavy Choir playing over the speakers, Perfume Genius' band made a low-key entrance to the stage. Accompanied by a drummer, guitarist and synth-player, Hadreas walked out in a structured leather jacket and waistcoat, wasting no time in supplying the opening vocals to the No Shape opener, Otherside. Hadreas' fragile falsetto vocals and slow-motion dancing are on display alongside swelling soundscapes, setting the theatrical tone of the show to come.
Through Longpig and Fool, Hadreas' high-pitch wail and deeper tones show impressive vocal range. However, as he slinks from one side of the stage to the other, the crowd barely moves. It's perhaps a reflection of the larger venue, or the complexity of songs that make it hard for attendees to dance to.
With Perfume Genius' catalogue hard to place into a singular genre, the quieter part of the show highlights its diversity. "It's very depressing and slow, don't get too excited," Hadreas says as he straps on his guitar for the waltz Normal Song. It's a tender and confessional refrain as he switches to a sole piano for accompaniment for a stripped-back segment of the night.
When the band returns for a song that sounds like it belongs on a Twin Peaks score, Hadreas ends it with a caterwaul-like shriek that catches many in the audience off guard. Slip Away ends the set before the encore begins four songs on the piano including a duet with partner Alan Wyffels before the night ends with crowd pleaser, Queen.