Easter Sunday 2017, a dark fairy light-lit, cosy back room stage, belonging to ‘The Exchange’ – a small, graffiti-covered, craft beer pub in Bristol. Two people walk through the crowd onto the stage. One has a face full of glitter, a beard and wears a leopard print dress, the other is wearing a gorgeous cream and pink flower dress with black luscious locks.The crowd is an amalgamation of beards, glitter, fur coats and space buns.
Wikipedia describes Pwr bttm as ‘an American queer punk duo‘ which is fitting for the music and name if you don’t understand the acronym of the name (which innocent me didn’t when I first heard of them). The name means “Power Bottom” the name encapsulates the songs as they tackle queer issues, sex, wrong pronoun use and heartbreak.
Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins instantly treat the audience like friends and start discussing what Wetherspoons is like on Easter Sunday. Their music and nature is enchanting and the audience are dragged into their inviting world.
They played a mixture of past and present songs, including ‘Ugly Cherries’ from their first album, which has an upbeat tune with poignant lyrics about wanting or losing boys. Although a lot of the music industry is covered in songs about glorious love, Pwr Bttm songs face what most of the single population are going through: the heartbreak of not being wanted or being alone. A song from their new album, ‘Answer My Texts’, was a highlight – beginning quietly before the drums and guitar start to rise, then it crescendos rapidly into screaming lyrics. The music and lyrics are in tandem, following the complicated up and down journey of waiting for a love interest to answer. The duo even played a new song which will be released in the coming weeks, it’s bittersweet and provides promises of more marvelous work to come.
It’s wonderful how far queer music has come from the 80s where artist’s like Elton John and Freddie Mercury slowly moved towards the limelight, whereas now, there are queer bands who are free to express themselves openly across western countries. Pwr bttm subvert genres and social expectation through music and style and represent how complicated and messy it is to be young and queer in a modern society.
The performance was like watching an intimate garage performance of high quality. Comparable to the likes of Diet Cig or Apocalipstick, Pwr Bttm fall into the category of complicated, messy punk bands to be played whenever emotions need an outlet.
Although my feet hurt by the end from stomping to the beat and my eyes had seen enough sparkle and beards to last a lifetime, it was an experience I wouldn’t have missed and will definitely be repeating.