Seeing Perfect Pussy perform is akin to an incredible workout. You’re running faster and longer than you ever have before, lifting heavier weights and doing more reps, all while your adrenaline pumps furiously to keep you going. You hit the showers feeling drained but invigorated. Then you wake up the next morning and can’t move because your body is so sore. You snap back to reality and think, “What did I do to myself last night?” But before that pain there was pleasure, and once the soreness goes away you’re stronger and healthier as a result.
Simply listening to Perfect Pussy’s debut EP I have lost all desire for feeling forces your ears to do some heavy lifting, but seeing the band live is an even louder experience for which there is no volume control. I’m not entirely sure what decibel level they’re operating at, but it’s one humans were not fully intended to handle. You know how My Bloody Valentine are one of, if not the loudest live band currently in existence? No joke, Perfect Pussy give them a serious run for their money. They may even be louder. Whereas MBV largely operate on a deep, heavy and rocketship-like rumble frequency, PP go for the screeching, high-pitched feedback-laden white noise sort of frequency. It made my earplug-less eardrums freak out and vibrate in ways that I have never experienced before. When I develop tinnitus or eventually go deaf, their show at Schubas on Wednesday night will likely be the moment I point to that started the decline. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The band’s entire headlining set lasted for just under 20 minutes. Granted, they only have an EP out with their debut full length Say Yes to Love set for release on March 18th. But they’re also a punk band, meaning a majority of their songs are under 3 minutes in length and each one feels like a blitz attack of noise. They performed their entire four track EP and a few cuts from the upcoming record, all of which bled into one another like some kind of amorphous monster. In talking with singer Meredith Graves after the show, she offhandedly mentioned that if they had continued playing much longer, she probably would have started violently puking everywhere. She wasn’t sick, but rather her unwavering commitment to the music takes so much physical and mental stamina that her body just wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. The entire band actually performs the same way, giving and leaving everything out on the stage, and I suppose that’s one of the big reasons why Perfect Pussy is so immensely compelling and quickly building in popularity.
The other main reason why is their lyrics. If you listen to any of PP’s songs, you can tell that there are words being sung/spoken/screamed, but can in no way make heads or tails of exactly WHAT is being said. That’s by design, and I can assure you it’s no clearer in a live setting. Yet on their Bandcamp they give you all the lyrics from their EP, which turn out to be intensely personal and beautifully worded. While most of the songs focus on tragic experiences, they also offer great insight and introspection about them, with lessons learned as a result. A teenage fan told Graves after the show that he goes around chanting the lyrics, “I am full of light / I am filled with joy / I am full of peace,” which close out the song “I.” It was obvious those words meant so much to him, as they do to Graves herself, who sings with so much emotion on stage that you completely understand even if you can’t make heads or tails of what words are being said.
The real tragedy is that there will be people who listen to Perfect Pussy, either on record or at a show, and immediately dismiss them as loud noise and nothing more. That’s an impulse inside of us all. But those who reject or simply don’t try to understand this band will be missing out on something incredible. Believe it or not, as abrasive as they sound PP are all about inclusion and not exclusion. They want to connect with you, embrace you and uplift you. They want to show you that good can come from even the worst situations, like that time you had your eardrums assaulted for nearly 20 minutes. And the best part is that they mean it. It wouldn’t be worth putting yourself through the sonic ringer if they didn’t.
Perfect Pussy – Driver
Preorder their album Say Yes to Love (out March 18)
Buy their demo EP I have lost all desire for feeling