Perfume Genius at the Independent, by Zack Frederick

Perfume Genius, the stage name of Seattle’s Mike Hadreas, consistently drew shouts and cheers from the sold-out crowd last night, despite performing music that can be overwhelmingly sad — stories of fucked-up relationships, body trauma, and discrimination. Everyone in the room at the Independent was rooting for Hadreas, as though he was on the brink of collapse, a bundle of nervous performances held together by his backing band. But then Hadreas would step away from his signature piano and grab the microphone and dance around the stage, usually while performing tracks from his louder, more aggressive 2014 LP Too Bright, a testament to how far he has come as both a songwriter and a performer.

The eighty minute set spanned the entire Perfume Genius discography but Too Bright‘s songs drew plenty of raucous applause — a promising twist to see an artists whose fans want his latest material and not only the old material. The most memorable moment came when Hadreas played “Hood”, the best song from 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It,which quickly lifts up his signature sparse piano, adds a driving beat, and gives Hadreas a chance to belt out a chorus. “Hood” really seems to form the foundation of what Too Bright became: A stronger, more confident performer embracing a louder, more magnetic version of himself.

In between shouts from the crowd (“I love you!” “You’re gorgeous!”), two women standing next to me murmured “thank you, thank you” under their breath and then they both began to cry. During the next song, they dropped to the floor and buried their heads in their knees. That’s really the power and the beauty of Perfume Genius — one minute you think you’re fine, the next you’re on the floor crying.