Girls Prove Crowd Favorite Over Perfume

Alexandra Bloch

Many did not know what to expect from musical groups Parenthetical Girls and Perfume Genius. Their names caused confusion, which was further heightened as Oberlin students walked into a relatively quiet ’Sco last Monday night. However, before the audience could Google these two bands on their iPhones, a charming man began prancing around while singing melodiously. This is how Oregon–based band Parenthetical Girls opened the show for Perfume Genius: a marvelous and unique set.

Lead singer for Parenthetical Girls Zac Pennington quickly proved himself to be talented at much more than just singing. He danced around the stage, brought his act down to the dance floor and even (to the ’Sco bartenders’ dismay) stole a bowl of pretzels and handed them out to the audience as he sang. He proved himself to be a true performer, keeping the audience engrossed with jokes between songs and never staying in one place for more than a minute at a time. No one and nothing was safe.

Pennington walked through the audience, looping the cord to his microphone wire in between people’s feet, around the stage and around the chairs. He even sang from atop the bar. As for the music, the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show. Parenthetical Girls’ songs were upbeat, rhythmic and charming.

Perfume Genius — the headliner of the concert — gave a performance that was quite different from the cheerful, cutesy opener. Singer Mike Hadreas slid onto stage silently and morosely as he began singing, his band-mates playing their instruments quietly in the background. Their sound was beautiful, yet hauntingly sad.

Much less of a natural performer than Pennington, Hadreas was quiet and shy. Nevertheless, he brought something unique to the stage; his music was painfully real, occasionally autobiographical and slightly hopeful. One Oberlin student described his stage mannerisms as awkward, yet endearing and vital to his overall performance. While the performance was mellow and contained little levity, the audience received good vibes and enjoyed the hour of music.

Currently touring with Parenthetical Girls, Perfume Genius is promoting its new album, Put Your Back N 2 It, which has received lots of positive press. The two have been traveling around the country together, performing their contrasting sets. Before coming to Oberlin, the bands performed at the Mercury Lounge in New York City; there, like here, they received a similar reaction of surprise and intrigue regarding the contrast of the lineup, but an ultimate enjoyment of both bands and their performances. Post–Oberlin, they will continue on to various other locations in the Midwest, followed by Canada and finally the United Kingdom.

Overall the show was a success despite the small Monday night crowd and the slightly melancholic performance by the headliner. While Perfume Genius ended the night with a graceful, somber set laced with relatable stories of lost love and painful adolescence, Parenthetical Girls kicked off the night by successfully spreading its name around Oberlin’s campus.