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Wed May 10 2017
8:00 PM (Doors 8:00 PM)
$16 Adv./ $18 Day of
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Perfume Genius, serpentwithfeet
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This is an American rock ‘n’ roll album by big American pop star Perfume Genius.
Known early as a poster-wraith for notorious, joyous, tortured and free boys, girls and their fellow travelers, the first two albums by Perfume Genius consisted largely of exquisite and cruelly abbreviated songs seemingly sung in the dark at a piano with all the silences left in. The previously most recent album, 2014’s Too Bright, stepped out saucily onto a bigger stage, expressing, with the production help of Adrian Utley, emotions arranged all along the slippery continuum from rage to irony to love. Now here we have seized the vocabulary of the full expression of all music.
WHAT IS THIS
Here in 13 ferocious and sophisticated tracks, Mike Hadreas and his collaborators blow through church music, makeout music, an array of the gothier radio popular formats, rhythm and blues, art pop, krautrock, queer soul, the RCA Studio B sound, and then also collect some of the sounds that only exist inside Freddy Krueger. Tremolo on the electric keys. Nightclubbing. Daywalking. Peter Greenawaying, Springsteening, Syreetaing.
Luridness was a quality of music in the 1960s that is mostly since shunned. The big male crooners were all fiercely lurid as an expression of passion or lustiness or general dickability. That’s something perfect to take back. You took us to church and told us to believe in ghosts. You took us to school and told us to believe in the great American project of inclusion. Instead we started fucking to the great American project of rock and roll. There’s more than one sexy soul song here. Seduction is also spellcraft. Rock and roll was an incantation, a beg to give it up baby. It’s not that different from begging Some Thing to not let you die when you are alone and afraid.
A QUICK BREAK ABOUT HOW
Blake Mills — the one who produced the Alabama Shakes record and who performs with John Legend — produced the record with precision and expansion. Some things are pretty and some are blasted beyond recognition. In the studio with Shawn the engineer, Mike and Blake would hear quite different voices as they worked and they built this together.
MORE ON THE TOPIC OF WHY
God is all around actually and some of these songs are about being equal and some are about the witchcraft of believing. This is church music the same way Prince’s Black Album is — too dirty. It’s femme art pop the way Kate Bush’s The Dreaming is — too scary. Prayer is indistinguishable from OCD but feels a lot cleaner.
LIFE IS ACKNOWLEDGING THAT WE EACH STRIVE FOR HAPPINESS
- “I felt like when I made these other albums, people were like why are you talking about these things, and now people are going to be like, why aren’t you talking about these things, because everything’s so terrible. I’m never not talking about it. My life is existing in the fucking face of it. My music will always be in protest.”
- “I pay my rent. I’m approaching health. The things that are bothering me personally now are less clear, are more confusing. I don’t think I really figured them out with these songs. There’s something freeing about how I don’t have it figured out. Unpacking little morsels, magnifying my discomfort, wading through buried harm, laughing at or digging in to the embarrassing drama of it all. I may never come out the other side but it’s invigorating to try and hopefully, ultimately helpful. I think a lot of them are about trying to be happy in the face of whatever bullshit I created for myself or how horrible everything and everyone is.”
- “I can steal from people that are on the inside and act as if. I created my whole identity around never being on the inside.”
Who gets to live now? That’s a question up for active international debate. Lots of folks are getting a clear view into what they all think of us. When we can, we should not have to care. You should feel great listening here, even when you’re sad. Our job is to find love and connection and goodness. Records like this, records that make you feel like you’re 15 and just seeing the truth for the first time, are excessively rare. They’re here to remind you that you’re divine.
After spending years studying as a classical vocalist, 27-year-old Baltimore-born artist serpentwithfeet (a nom de plume for Josiah Wise) spent time drifting around Paris and London before eventually landing in NYC. It was here that his music-a beautiful confluence of gospel and classically-inflected electronica-began to truly take shape.
"I decided in 2012 or in 2013 that I didn't want a band anymore," he recalls, "I was like, "What would happen if I did my R&B thing over this classical shit" It took a while, but I started to wonder if I could make something that satisfies other people and myself. I want the music to resonate with people. I didn't start thinking about that until I moved to New York, to be honest."
blisters is serpentwithfeet's first EP from Tri Angle Records. After spending a few years experimenting-both musically and visually-in NYC's underground queer music scene ("I was basically just posting something new every week on Soundcloud, waiting for someone to take notice," he says), Wise eventually struck on a sound and a sentiment that made sense. On "four ethers," the third single to be taken from blisters, serpentwithfeet wonders aloud what it would feel like to be violently transparent, and finds him in pursuit of a rare honesty. Huge swathes of strings and percussion emphatically rise and crash turbulently against Wise's questioning voice as he ultimately asks: "How can I touch somebody who wont even touch themselves?" "four ethers" might be serpentwithfeet's most powerful and dramatic work to date.
A similar kind of emotional dynamic runs throughout all of blisters. Tracks like "penance" and "redemption" vacillate between hushed intimacy and huge emotional swells. On the EP's title track, Wise's multi-tracked voice plays against gently-plucked harp and syncopated handclaps, the record's gospel affectations and slinky R&B tropes fusing into something unique, exotic, and strangely beautiful. Meanwhile, surrounded by strings, subtle electronics and Wise's restrained piano playing--and buoyed aloft by production courtesy of The Haxan Cloak- the EP's first single, "flickering," is the perfect showcase for Wise's powerhouse voice. "I'm starting to feel the cord connecting us two is made of gossamer," he sings. "I'm starting to feel there's no cord between us two/are we made of gossamer?" The track unspools with a kind of hushed intimacy, the tone and tenor of Wise's voice rising and falling like a breath until the song itself crests and flutters before disappearing completely.
Given that he credits both Brandy and Bjork as inspirations, it's not surprising that serpentwithfeet treads a fine line between emotive gospel and more left-of-centre stylings. With his own gloriously outré personal style and penchant for the dramatic, it also makes sense that the music Wise makes would be so remarkably unclassifiable. "It feels very free because I also feel very free," he says. "I don't feel like being gay restricts me in the same way I also don't feel like being black restricts me. In fact, it only makes me more interesting. Making music has always been about making a space for myself in the world. My theory has always been that if you walk into a room and say, 'This is my room'-it's your room. The End."