The Cedar Cultural Center is built like a cross between a living room and a high school auditorium. Large enough to accommodate a few hundred people on its wooden floor, and small enough to be as intimate as watching a performer sing on the couch across from you. Its stage sits just below waist height, with no gap between people and the platform. You can get as close or as far away as you’re comfortable being. Tropical fake foliage atop vintage plant stands branched over the stage, and welcomed the performers.
serpentwithfeet began the show with a quiet yet energetic set. His voice reaching up and around the piano and backing tracks he played and sang along to. With incredible range he spoke about mourning and longing. In Blisters, off the EP with the same name, singing “Kiss me or go, Kiss me or go, Pretend the floors cracking in the shape of our names is not a big deal, Pretend the dying flowers growing towards us is not a big deal, Pretend me loving you is not a big deal,Go” And while as emotional as the lyrics and the songs are, he was happy and kind to the audience, alluding to the living-room like atmosphere of The Cedar, and his own songs as “adult lullabies” with a smile. A perfect set to prepare the audience for Perfume Genius.
After a quick set change and a brief thank you to the incredible volunteers that run The Cedar, the lights dimmed, and the erratic strings that begin Choir rumbled through the speakers as the band appeared onstage. Otherside was the first song to feature the delicate, tender voice from Mike Hadreas, The song itself completely altering the room. Donning a muscle shirt and a blue striped dress cut at the top and held on by a belt across the waist, He made his away around the stage with incredible energy, twisting and spinning himself to the rhythm of his songs. It’s hard not to, many people in the audience followed suit.
Perfume Genius is on tour to promote His latest album No Shape. A loud, yet tender album, and another masterpiece from producer Blake Mills. It has a quality to it that says “instant classic” which isn’t something you hear often, yet at all, about queer musicians and their records. It’s a contemporary look at love and it’s fidelity in a time that still questions such. “How long must we live right before we don’t even have to try?” he asks on Valley, quietly strumming on guitar. Wreath echos the style of 80’s Fleetwood Mac. When the songs aren’t upbeat, they’re soft and ambient. Alan, a song about Michael’s partner, has Michael sing into the echos of strings and the piano “you need me, rest easy, i’m here, how weird”
It was this kind of delicate energy that enchanted the audience song after song. Very little chatter. Very little phones out, to text or to capture. The audience was hear to provide a home for the band, and to listen to the hopeful struggle in the lyrics. A four song encore was welcomed by the audience, mostly featuring Michael solo at his piano before the rest of the band welcomed him for the final number Queen off of 2014’s Too Bright. It was an evening of incredible music, With Michael giving his all onstage, vocally, physically, and emotionally.
Words and Photos By Casey Carlson