It may be a late addition to the Auckland Arts Festival's already impressive line-up but it's rocketed straight into the number one spot on our must-see list.

In a thrilling and rare coup, Lyttelton Gothic-Folk artist Aldous Harding and Seattle's chamber pop maestro Perfume Genius will play one show together on Thursday, March 15, at the Music Arena down at Silo Park's Festival Playground.

The two artists share a mesmerising and romanticised gloom that makes them perfect gig buddies, and indeed, the pair collaborated on Harding's brilliant and enthralling record Party last year.

That darkly intriguing, hauntingly seductive album took the number one spot in TimeOut's Album of the Year 2017 list, and also saw Harding take home two Tuis at the Music Awards so you bet we're extremely excited by the news.


Yet we couldn't stop wondering how Harding's sparse, powerfully emotional songs would fare after emerging from dark, dim venues and venturing out on to the wide open air of a festival stage.

"We've played quite a few festivals now," Harding says. "We can take care of it, no matter where we are. We should be fine."

She attributes this to the work put in during the exhaustive 11-month world tour she undertook last year. She and her band may be able to take care of it now but it wasn't an easy transition.

"You know, we've had some pretty rough festival stages," she says. "One of my least favourite gigs was a festival. There weren't many people there and they were all talking."

But, as they say, the band played on, and as they familiarised themselves with those big stages things began to click.

"You either need to be really locked in with the person you're playing with or really locked in with the audience," she explains. "Now [when you see us] you get what anyone in a dimly lit bar would get."

She's not wrong. On Monday Harding gave a goosebumps-inducing performance at Auckland's Laneway Festival that entranced as many as it confused with her confronting theatrical performance.

Perched on a stool behind a big white guitar Harding's face twists and contorts and glares and gurns as she appears to summon all manner of holy hell and strange beauty out of her very soul.

But what is she thinking about while all that is going on?

"Get it right. Keep it interesting. Do your thing. That's about it," she says wryly.

If she can hush a rowdy crowd of random festival-goers, then imagine what she can do in front of an appreciative audience.

The night promises to be something truly special. But make no mistake; it will be emotional. We can't wait.

*Tickets available now from or