perfume genius [2012]

Swedish American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
24 October 2012

I don’t normally do this.

I saw Perfume Genius just two years ago, at Bottom of the Hill, and wrote a whole review. Captured fairly accurately what it is for me to see Mike Hadreas and his beautiful, sad music live. So why, these two years later, would I write another review of the same band?

As it turns out, I should do things I don’t normally do more often.

Perfume Genius released a new album (Put Your Back N 2 It) since that 2010 show. I really love that album. The show this Wednesday night was at Swedish American. I love Swedish American. It is like no other venue I have ever been to, an oasis of wooden simplicity, and I have fallen in love with it over and over again, with each visit.

But back to this recently-released album. I took a train from Oakland to Portland with my 5 year-old daughter this past May. It was an amazing trip that I will never forget. I had recently picked up Put Your Back N 2 It and it was my soundtrack to the trip. Private car, sitting across from my daughter, watching her sit so peacefully, legs crossed, engrossed in “reading” her book. Breathtaking views of Oregon green and blue sweeping by us. And through my headphones, I listened to Mike Hadreas’ delicate, wavering voice and I nearly wept. They were wondrous moments made so rare by the fact that I understood and appreciated their beauty in those very moments.

And so I sat there Wednesday night at Swedish American experiencing Perfume Genius anew. They were what they had been two years ago. They were just as heartbreaking and haunting. But now they brought me to this beautiful and pure place that will forever define me as a father. “Dark Parts”. I must have replayed it 25 times as we rattled over those tracks towards Portland, the timpani pounding us wonderfully forward. I cannot listen to it now in any other context but this.

I love that music can attach itself so irrevocably to memory. I love that these two beautiful elements will be forever connected. I love that, Wednesday night, I could be there again.