I’m not a big fan of Metallica, but I thoroughly enjoyed their 2004 documentary Some kind of Monster. The reason I like it, is because it shows that if you take a long hard look at male group dynamics, no matter how tough and hard the group, in the end we’re all a bunch of little girls pondering about ‘who likes who’ and trying to deal with hurt feelings. It is this self-knowledge that makes the confronting displays of hypersensitivity by Mike Hadreas, a.k.a. Perfume Genuis almost bearable for the heterosexual man. Almost.
Of course, of course, of course, of course, Put Your Back N 2 It is a beautiful album. It’s perfect for Sunday evenings after I’ve had more than my share of male group dynamics. But last Thursday night in ecumenical centre De Duif watching Hadreas being all fragile and stuff, claustrophobia grabs hold of me. I feel convined even though De Duif is housed in a monumental church on the Prinsengracht. The acoustics are great and the setting is impressive. Apart from the odd flamboyant transvestite the audience looks and claps like they live a few doors down. (For those of you not familiar Amsterdam’s main canals; it’s were the prime shareholders of your record company live, not the people who go attend your gigs.)
Mike Hadreas’ past as a drug addict and generally tormented youth hasn’t left any exterior marks. His red nailpolish is the onlything that prevents him from looking like a choir boy in the setting of the church. In reality Mike Hadreas is 30 years old. With Hadreas’ steady boyfriend Alan Wyffels on supporting synth and a less pious looking third band member called Eric Corson on drums ands (bass) guitar, Perfume Genius manages to almost reproduce the intimate yet lush sound of Put Your Back N 2 It. The fact that the timing of the trio isn’t always 100% only adds to the frailty of the music.
It’s endearing to see Hadreas spending half the gig looking at his boyfriend’s fingers striking the keys of his synth, either for support or encouragement. At other times he’s dramatically mimicking the pain of 17 or Dark Parts. The fact that it isn’t a pose makes me close my eyes. That way I can enjoy the music without being confronted with an embarrassing amount of brittleness. Acknowledging that male packs show similar social behavioral patterns as little girls do is not the same thing as enjoying to men sitting side by side playing quatre main. It doesn’t matter how much in love they are.