Perfume at City National Civic, San Jose

live report - 05.15.2019 20:01

Flawless, austere dancing and an unreal viewing experience.

Between Perfume’s two performances at the American music festival Coachella, they performed at the City National Civic in San Jose on a Wednesday night. It was a strange choice to have the performance in San Jose after the previous two years’ were set in San Francisco, 55 miles to the north. Many of the concertgoers were still from San Francisco, braving the two hour commute during rush hour across the Bay Area. Some fans had flown from Japan, who had seen Perfume at Coachella the weekend before and were planning on seeing them again at Coachella the weekend after.

The show opened with Xia Xia Technique (XXT), an avant-garde rap/electronic duo. They had a minimal setup in front of the sheer white curtain on the stage, with only a DJ table, and a homemade paper sign that declared “WE ARE XXT”.

After XXT played their set, the lights dimmed and projections chronicling Perfume’s history went across the screen. Techno images of maps, numbers, headlines, and silhouettes of their performances was synced with the music. As the music built up, the crowd went wild as the countdown caught up to the current year, 2019, and flashes of Perfume’s 3D rendered and real backlit silhouettes blended together until the music stopped on their real silhouettes. Arranged in three identical power poses, dressed in a geometric mix of sheer and opaque structural robes, Perfume looked like three avant-garde statues, complete with their own pedestals. The crowd went wild as Perfume moved towards the front of the stage in their rhythmic and robotic distinctive strut, and exploded as they stood at the front of the stage, suddenly illuminated by an otherworldly overhead light.

They started with the instrumental Start-Up, coordinated perfectly with the projected foreground of geometric lights, making the stage seem deeper and more 3D than it really was. The music built to Future Pop, the title track from Perfume’s newest album. Still partially obscured by the sheer white screen, Perfume was arranged in a triangle formation, dancing their precise Future Pop routine. Their impeccable coordination even with bulky costumes and high heels was awe-inspiring. Of almost all of the Japanese performers that perform in America, Perfume had the best and most refined stage design with very well executed projection mapping. The end of the song had a lengthy instrumental, and at one point, Perfume was replaced by their digitally projected selves that continued to dance in their place.

With Electro World, the girls came back out dressed in their grey structural Future Pop music video outfits. The back projection zoomed around a 3D city. At one point, the background had geometric silhouettes of Perfume that synced perfectly with their dance movements. With the background so interesting, it usually would be hard to keep the audience’s interest on the performer, but even with such an engaging background, Perfume’s flawless and austere dancing took center stage and it all combined for an unreal viewing experience.

The sheer curtain fell during If you wanna, revealing the girls. Without the front curtain to project on, the visuals for the rest of the show were constrained to the back, and the focus was more on Perfume’s dancing and vocals.

The projections and lights were turned off, and Perfume came back out, now suddenly becoming more relatable again. They talked about their performances at Coachella, how they had been in America for three weeks and subsequently were running out of toiletries and clothes. Perfume went shopping at the local San Jose mall, Santana Row, and reenacted their shopping spree at Sephora, which subsequently started a “Shopping! Spree! Shopping! Spree!” call-and-response with the crowd.

Perfume’s performance continued with many songs from their recent albums, each song having distinct choreography and generative graphics. Their’s dancing was full body and edged on modern dancing, and made use of the trio’s movements to create bigger movements all together. Their innovative music videos almost pale in comparison to their live shows.

Perfume came back out to a cheering crowd with Magic of Love. For their final address to the audience, Perfume thanked everyone for their support and for believing in them. Perfume closed the night with the slower Mugen Mirai, the audience singing along. After the girls left the stage, the credit reel for the production played, and everyone cheered as KASHIYUKA, a-chan, and NOCCHi appeared and faded from the screen.

Set list

01. Start-Up
02. Future Pop
03. Electro World
04. If you wanna
05. Let Me Know
06. FUSION
07. Tiny Baby
08. Butterfly
09. Secret Secret
10. TOKYO GIRL
11. Pick Me Up
12. Fake It
13. FLASH
14. Chocolate Disco

Encore
01. Magic of Love
02. Mugen Mirai
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