The New York Times once called Mike Hadreas, who goes by the performing moniker Perfume Genius, “the gay indie-rock equivalent of a swaggering Syvlester or Jobriath.”
In 2015, Metro Weekly asserted “he may be our most unapologetic, unabashedly gay artist ever.” At the time, Hadreas was delivering a take-charge message about being “weird,” about being the outcast, about being gay — even about his penchant for wearing lipstick and jungle red nail polish.
“I grew up my whole life thinking about my anxieties and my insecurities, thinking that the things that happened to me made me a wounded person,” Hadreas said in a cover interview shortly after releasing his third album Too Bright.
“[I learned] you can be a nervous, weird, tiny, feminine man and be a fuckin’ badass. It doesn’t need to be solved for you to be okay. I made a career out of trying to figure things out. But just because they’re not completely figured out doesn’t mean there’s something wrong.”
It all still holds up, all these years later. And now, Hadreas is finally back out on the road on a proper tour, bringing to vivid life on stage every night, in inimitable Perfume Genius fashion, his fifth and best-yet studio album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.
Released shortly after the pandemic hit, the set would go on to top the Best Albums of 2020 by Metro Weekly critic Sean Maunier.
“On the album, as in life, dissonance, harmony, struggle, and joy are all bound up together,” Maunier wrote.
“Rather than smoothing over the tension and contradiction between them, Hadreas, always a skillful and deliberate songwriter, thoughtfully embraces them as parts of a whole….
“To listen to Set My Heart On Fire Immediately at a time when our relationships to our own bodies and those of others has been so turned on its head is a fraught but rewarding experience, its bluntness and honesty feeling almost like permission to feel the full depth of our basic longing for human contact.”
Perfume Genius appears Friday, March 25 at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Doors at 10 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 202-265-0930 or visit www.930.com.