by Andrew Bryant
‘All that glitters is not gold’ cautioned a celebrated bard, though he surely hadn’t bargained on the alchemic wonder that is PWR BTTM.
Queercore, DIY, lo-fi, queer punk, garage – pick your genre then prepare to be challenged, because Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins channel the art school glee of fellow queer scene alumni, Tune-Yards, but replace African beats with – well – with anything they damn well please.
2015 witnessed the birth of a most prestigious offspring, the layered goodness of Ugly Cherries that introduced two gals eager to share an agenda, not with a hammer fist but with laconic wit and the patience of Gandhi. Two years on, sequins honed by persistent feting of the music press, PWR BTTM have returned to British shores for the shower of their notoriously difficult second child; the sophomoric, Pageant. There’s glitter, there’s laughter, there’s overdriven guitars. Oh, and there’s a SOLD OUT sign. It’s that kind of party.
Perhaps what’s most astonishing is that despite the sometimes jovial nature of their Ramones’esque two minute ditties, PWR BTTM is comprised of two very serious musicians. Hopkins’ frenzied finger tapping during set opener, Silly, could rival any metal shredder, whilst the behemoth that is Ugly Cherries is a masterclass in songwriting with its soaring chords and Hopkins’ laconic yet resigned vocals. A mid-set switcheroo brings Liv to guitar duties and triggers a rapturous ovation whilst Ben is resigned to the drums where he appears equally comfortable and surprisingly Grohlesque.
‘We can get so famous that we both get shot,’ sings Liv, perhaps a little more ironically now they’ve won hearts on both sides of the pond, but they are too astute to let it get the better of their egos.
Tonight’s crowd are also in on the programme, eagerly serenading with the refrain – ‘But right now, I’m in the shower’.
All that glitters may not be gold – but sometimes, just sometimes, you come across a real gem.
by Andrew Bryant
The Exchange – Bristol, UK
Sunday 16th April
images copyright of Festival Pictorial.