Show Review: PWR BTTM

Healing comes in many forms. For some people it’s taking a mental health day from school or work; for others, Christian yoga followed by a trip to Urth Caffe. I’m not here to pass judgment either way - to each their own. At the Bootleg Theater, a venue that features plays as well as musical acts, I found peace in watching PWR BTTM.

“The next four years is going to consist of so much stress acne. I hope everyone has a good skin regimen planned.”

“I’ve been scrubbing myself like I stole something. But what about all the charcoal I bought?”

“You can burn it. In a couple months, the EPA won’t care.”

For PWR BTTM, there were much greater problems at hand than just bad skin. PWR BTTM is the indie-rock “queer punk” duo of Ben and Liv, joined by bassist Nicholas Cummins on Friday night; each of member identifies as gender-queer, performing pretty exclusively in dresses and glitter, an especially bold statement in the current socio-political climate. It also doesn’t help that their van, filled with both instruments and outfits, was stolen at a prior show. But nothing, be it grand theft auto or Donald Trump, was going to stop PWR BTTM. Their performance was electric; the members of the group danced, sang, and thrashed around the stage, at one point headbanging so hard that Nicholas’ wig flew off. After “closing” the show, they re-emerged only after the audience asked them to “summon the fried chicken monster,” a phrase which brought out an unidentified person dressed in a massive chicken leg costume (something they had apparently found in the green room of the Bootleg and naturally had to bring on stage.)

As the show came to its end, Ben asked us to repeat a simple poem with them. It was one they often close with, but especially resonated given the last couple days. They asked the crowd, clad in drag and glitter, to join in, as the band played under us. Truthfully, when I realized that attending the PWR BTTM concert would conflict with participating in a protest downtown, I almost regretted going. But as I stood there, screaming in unison with dozens of other like-minded people, no longer afraid for the first time in days, I realized I was already a part of one. Our presence itself was an act of defiance. We built a safe space out of punk rock, sparkles, and ill-fitting dresses. And while I usually leave concerts feeling happy, after seeing PWR BTTM at the Bootleg Theater, I left feeling empowered.

“One man won’t ever love me like I need him to,” we shouted.

My voice is still hoarse. 


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