Hand Habits performs at SOhO on June 16, 2023. | Photo: Hannah Weaver

When Hand Habits opened their SOhO show last Friday, the crowd scurried in from the neighboring bar they were lounging in.

Hand Habits, like Tame Impala, is really “just one dude” — that dude being Meg Duffy. Duffy created Hand Habits as a solo project in 2012, but tours with other musicians to achieve a fuller band. At SOhO, they were joined by Greg Uhlmann, their Perfume Genius bandmate. 

“Crowd” actually might be a bit of an overstatement to describe the roughly 30 people who came to watch. Duffy approached this disappointing showing with humor, turning the show into a half-concert, half-standup set. 

“I know it’s solstice weekend, so that must be where everyone else is,” Duffy said at the start of the show, and noted that for a seemingly Christian-heavy city, it’s funny how we like to celebrate “some Pagan shit.”

What the crowd lacked in numbers, they made up for with spirit, hollering after Duffy’s every word and song. “I like this energy,” Duffy said after a particularly raucous reaction to their song “Clean Air” from the 2021 album Fun House.

The show spanned a range of Hand Habits’ 11-year discography, hitting songs all the way back to their first release in 2012. The bulk of the show, though, focused on songs from Sugar the Bruise, which just came out on June 16. 

“Private Life” is one off that record, which Duffy explained is about their experience with internalized homophobia.

“If you don’t know what that means, come talk to me after; I’ll give you a TED Talk,” they joked. 

Duffy played “Private Life” sitting down, performing the already melancholic song in an even more haunting way. Their clear voice above the gentle guitar and keyboard made for a moving combination.

Following a few more sitting-down songs, they played “Bust of Nefertiti” and a dance party broke out, with attendees making use of the extra space to spin across the makeshift dance floor. The joy was so infectious that Duffy even joined in at the end, bopping up on stage to their own beat (literally).

Hand Habits finished with “4th of July” — the perfect subtly powerful ballad to close out a show on a tour with the theme of “no expectations.”


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