Things to Do

Concert Preview: 4 Things to Know About Perfume Genius

The Seattle artist plays the Hamilton Thursday evening.
Photograph by Luke Gilford.

While Perfume Genius might sound like something that catches your eye on QVC during some late-night channel-flipping, it’s actually the stage name of “sadcore” indie musician Mike Hadreas. The Seattle artist released his third album, Too Bright, on September 23, and if the universally positive reviews are any indication, this is the year he makes it very, very big. He takes the stage at the Hamilton Thursday night; here are four reasons you should check him out.

He’s not afraid to get personal

Hadreas’s melancholy, soul-scratching songs speak to the universal needs of being loved, understood, and even just seen—but they also delve into his own struggles. Though advisers told him Too Bright would be more successful if he toned down the personal aspect—“which is code for being less gay,” as he told the New York Times—he made the wise decision to ignore the feedback.


He has a flair for trippy visuals

Hadreas told Pitchfork that his dream collaboration would be with director David Lynch, and the video for “Queen,” the first single off Too Bright, strikes an appropriately suburban-eerie, Blue Velvet-ish chord in its attempt to “deconstruct gay panic with relish.” The video for “Grid,” meanwhile, features Hadreas surrounded by a cadre of faceless, sexless, silver-suited beings who push and pull at him, and eventually place him on a banquet table covered with what looks like raw meat and Jell-o.

He counts big-name musicians among his fans

One sign that you’ve made it as a sad indie artist: when other sad indie artists start to cover your songs. The National covered “Learning,” off Perfume Genius’s first album (which shares a name with the track), this February, and Hadreas worked with Portishead’s Adrian Utley and longtime PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish for several of the tracks on Too Bright.

He’s about to be everywhere

The current Perfume Genius tour includes more than 45 stops across the US and Europe (including a sold-out show at New York’s Music Hall of Williamsburg on Tuesday, where, reportedly, audience members cried). If there were a safe bet for an artist whose bandwagon you want to jump on now, our money would be on Hadreas.

Perfume Genius plays the Hamilton Thursday, October 9, at 7:30 PM. Tickets ($14 to $17) are available online.

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