On paper, going to a Perfume concert seems like a tall order. The Japanese trio is famous in Asia for their turbo-powered, Auto-Tuned, kawaii-techno-pop bangers that never ease up on the tempo. Combine that with two-plus hours laser lights and holograms and it might mean sensory overload for an audience. But Labor Day Weekend marked the girl group's return to New York as the final stop in the U.S. leg of their 2016 Cosmic Explorer Tour. As the packed Hammerstein Ballroom performance proved, the pop stars can deliver a varied, multifaceted show and, in the end, even appear totally human.
After sign-toting fans began lining up for more than 24 hours on Friday afternoon, Perfume had the room transfixed from the opening number of their first of two NYC concerts (on Saturday, Sept. 3). Perfume members A-Chan, Kashiyuka and Nocchi entered the stage looking like otherworldly beings, rocking futuristic dresses that glowed red in the dark as a fleet of drones flew above and around the stage—the girls looking as if they controlled the tiny UFOs. It wasn't long until the stage was lit and the ladies brought their signature, super-synchronized choreography for "Pick Me Up" and "Cling Cling" as the hyped-up crowd fist-pumped along.
The show continued with Perfume moving through their silky-smooth dance routines including highlights like "Story" (where the band blinded the audience with a spectacular mix of holograms and LED technology), "Flash" (with the karate-like choreography), and "Polyrhythm" (the act's breakout single that undoubtedly was responsible for a large part of their audience). The whole spectacle was entrancing in a theater at Hammerstein, but one could imagine it working at EDM festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival or even a larger, all-genre fest like Coachella or Lollapalooza.
But what might have been most the biggest takeaway about the show was Perfume's commitment to connecting with the audience. Early on in the show, the trio took a break to look for cosplayers in the audience and give them their nods of approval—undoubtedly a major accomplishment for their fans. Later, when the group wanted to tell the crowd about their trip to New York thus far, they located a Japanese-speaking fan to translate for them (and said fan was adorably flustered by the girls speaking with him). In between, there were loads of memorable crowd interactions, a highlight being when the ladies talked about playing Pokémon Go in the U.S. and an anime version of Perfume appeared on screen for fans to "catch."
But some of the loudest cheers came when the girls revealed their No. 1 career goal during the encore, "Star Train." "Our dream is to go to Madison Square Garden," they humbly shared before the show's end. "We hope our dream will you be your dream...we believe in you." And with such a commitment to not only their stage show, but to the fans watching said show, Perfume could leave the Big Apple feeling that collective dream is certainly in reach.
Watch a special Crate Diggers episode filmed in Tokyo: