Perfume Genius / Matteah Baim

Mod Club, Toronto ON, October 4

Perfume Genius / Matteah BaimMod Club, Toronto ON, October 4
Photo: Kevin Jones
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"Don't You Know Your Queen?"

It's a line that strikes fear in some and evokes endless joy in the hearts of others. For Perfume Genius' Mike Hadreas, it's the empowering question that introduces the untamed emotions on his latest album, Too Bright, an acclaimed gem that finds the Seattle singer/songwriter breaking free of everything he once feared and channeling the glamorous force within him. The early performance found fans trickling in slowly, with a small crowd getting to the venue right on time.

As the Mod Club has a 10 p.m. weekend curfew, the night got started pretty quickly after doors opened. A small crowd watched as opening act Matteah Baim took the stage. The duo began strumming delicate chords and sung softly to the room, their gentle rock set becoming more emphatic as the coarse riffs weaved patches of smooth, luscious feedback that washed through the speakers. You could hear a pin drop in the room, as the crowd remained quiet and attentive, completely drawn in by the charming duo and their fragile sounds. Before you knew it, the band introduced their last song, ending their set with more beautifully textured distortion, a soothing finale that got big cheers from the crowd.

While the stage was being prepared for Perfume Genius, fans invaded the front section, lightly bopping to a Clams Casino record being played on repeat. Three men took their places on drums, guitar and synth, as the man of the hour Mike Hadreas walked in behind them. Wearing an all black one-piece with matching shoes, he stood poised on stage right before a tide of thunderous crashes and heavy guitar shredding kicked off their 18-song set with "My Body." Burst of dramatic light scattered across the stage, as Hadreas' silhouette peered through and delivered pitch-perfect tones over the rock'n'roll melee.

After a great intro, Perfume Genius performed a mixture of songs from his last album, 2012's Put Your Back N 2 It, and his current album, Too Bright, with a few unforgettable surprises along the way. The wide-eyed singer shared few a tear-jerking piano ballads in the early going, which left a lot of couples weeping and clenching their love ones. "Fool" found the pint-sized songbird back on the mic and swaying on stage, as he issued deep, tantalizing echoes, sparking an eerie, sustained vibrato that had everyone cheering mid-way through the song. Back on the piano for "No Good," Hadreas continued his emotional roller coaster in beautiful fashion.

Before the crowd could collect themselves after another tearful outing, Perfume Genius returned to the mic and dank, swampy reverb found him in a shrieking fit for "Grid." The singer screamed into the mic with vigour, circling the stage with intensity, as fans took in every moment of the spectacle. The band left the stage afterwards, leaving Hadreas and the synth player/his fiance on stage, both on piano, to perform "Hood" together. A tender moment found great chemistry between the couple as they played beautifully while gazing into each others' eyes.

The band returned to play three more songs before ending with "Queen." Fans watched joyously as Perfume Genius delivered his poignant lyrics, "Nobody family is safe when I sashay," a line made almost visceral as glaring lights made him appear larger than life, giving the crowd everything he had before taking his final bow and leaving the stage with his band. With ten minutes before curfew, the fans cheered and got a brief encore, ending the night just as the clock struck 10 and the venue began to clear out. Perfume Genius took his earnestness and vulnerability centrestage last night at Mod Club, soldiering on even when the weight of his performance seemed unbearably heavy. It's doesn't get any more bad ass than that.
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