Review: Perfume's gallery experience

Perfume: A gallery experience (supported by the Rhizomatiks) | Random J Pop

Perfume held what they called a 'Gallery experience' for their London based fans, as a form of penance for there being no European leg of the Cosmic explorer tour or a hint of a World tour 4th. I cussed this out the second it was announced, but I ride for Perfume, so of course I was always going to go.

I went into this exhibition salty and not expecting much. But even I wasn't prepared for how dry this gallery experience was going to be.

The best way to describe this gallery experience to you would be that it is pretty much what Japan get at Perfume's tour venues for free. It was a glorified merch shop, but it wasn't even that, because there wasn't a great deal that you could purchase.

If this were something that Perfume had just done for their fans as a random act, I would have been easier on it and more into it. But for this to be given to UK fans instead of a leg of the Cosmic explorer tour or a World tour 4th? No. Stop that.

This was me when I walked into the venue...

Perfume: A gallery experience (supported by the Rhizomatiks) | Random J Pop

The presentation was dead...ass. For a group as visually cutting edge as Perfume, nothing about this gallery experience looked slick. It was literally a room with the "Spring of life" dresses in the corner, 3 HDTV's playing a couple of their videos and some of their other dresses slapped on mannequins. Perfume's team bothered to have there be a gallery experience, but nobody really bothered to ensure it looked decent and reflected the aesthetic of the group. There was no neon. There were no lasers. There were no projections. They showed the "Spring of life" dresses, but where were the Rhizomatiks engineered dresses for "Spending all my time"? Where were the light up dresses from their 3:5:6:9 performance of "Story"? Why weren't their videos projected onto the walls? Nobody seemed to make an effort to make true on the word 'experience'. This was nothing but a bargain basement room with some dresses in it. Most hardcore Perfume fans probably have more of a showcase of Perfume in their bedrooms at home. YouTube dance covers be showing that fans are making these dresses anyway, so they're really not that special.

Perfume: A gallery experience (supported by the Rhizomatiks) | Random J Pop

At the very least each of the dresses could have had a screen above it, showing the music video or performance that they were worn in. Instead you just had one screen showing the SXSW performance of "Story" and another showing "Spring of life". And that was it. The only song that played in the venue was "Spring of life" on repeat, because of the dresses. No playlist featuring "Polyrhythm", "Dream fighter", "Laser beam" and "Star train". Just "Spring of life". On repeat. In a room that was not air conditioned, across a weekend that was close to 30°C.

There was also a table which featured a selection of Perfume's shoes. Why they even bothered I don't know, because Perfume's show game is not for things in exhibitions.

This gallery experience was exclusively for existing fans. But Perfume's team should have also seen this as a chance to cast the net wider and attract new fans. Given that the location of the gallery was in a highly pedestrianised part of East London with heavy foot flow, more could have been done to attract passers by. One of Perfume's videos playing outside of the venue would have been more than enough. My experience of showing one of Perfume's eye catching videos to friends of mine has been enough for then to ask more about who Perfume are.

There was also nothing that really told you anything about the group. Judging from the gallery experience, you'd think that Perfume are defined solely by their dresses. Perfume's dresses are one dimension which represents who they are, but it is not all Perfume are. Given that the gallery experience was hosted by the Rhizomatiks who have been responsible for near enough every cutting edge visual aspect of Perfume, I was disappointed by the lack of spotlight on the technology behind Perfume's performances. The technology behind their music videos. The technology behind their websites, which played a huge part in their LEVEL3 tour and their SXSW performance of "Story". All of this seemed to have been cast aside and omitted over 3 white dresses which light-up - which I have to say, as cool as they look, isn't nowhere near as impressive as when you see the girls perform in them. Because anybody can put fairy lights in a white dress and put it on a table.

It would have been nice to have had something on who A-chan, Kashiyuka and Nocchi actually are, and for there to be something which chronicles their history. Perfume have been in the industry for well over 10 years but there was nothing of their history and journey except for a wall which featured all of the promotional posters of their single releases, one of the only aspects of the 'experience' which I liked. But it wasn't a focal point and it was slapped in a corner next to some bookshelf and behind a table of crusty ass Isetan shoes.

In terms the gallery experience itself, it was just dire and half-arsed. The fact that fans were charged £5 for this mess was grimey as hell. Perfume's team could have done something really nice for UK fans, such as deliver an actual decent gallery experience, or do something truly one in a million, such as host a one off masterclass where Perfume's choreographer Mikiko teaches a signature Perfume routine to fans, with videos from Perfume themselves introducing the class. Or having a Perfume endorsed fan meet up for the screening of We are Perfume at an independent theatre, or setting up a live stream of one of their gigs in Japan at a theatre. There are so many things Perfume's team could have done to help soften the blow of there (at time of writing) being no European leg of the Cosmic explorer tour or a World tour 4th. But Perfume's team did the least and it left a really sour taste in my mouth. A taste which was made even more sour by the fact that the Gallery experience in New York featured additional dresses, got shout outs on Perfume's Instagram, the girls actually turned up to it and Daito Manabe one of the key masterminds behind the Rhizomatiks was also in attendance.

Please note, that this is of course just my opinion. I have received e-mails and tweets from Perfume fans who liked the gallery experience, and I'm genuinely happy that not every fan felt as I did with this. But from my perspective, after having Wolrd tour 2nd and World tour 3rd, this gallery doesn't even touch the sides in regards to being a replacement for anything close to a World tour 4th or a leg of a worldwide tour.

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