PWR BTTM’s Bean Hopkins – who most often plays guitar and sings – makes a joke about them being stereotypical Americans visiting Europe, they play on this for a minute or two, it is very funny and self-aware.
They remark that they cannot believe that trash like them are playing in an art school and then they remind us that theirs are inclusive gigs, and to be respectful of the bodies and space of other attendees when jumping around.
They kick into a song that makes the latter request very difficult, brought in by Hopkins’ incredibly creative and nuanced guitar work, lent atmosphere by talented use of drums and bass.
Hopkins’ exceptional voice bellows over and above anything else, while Liv Bruce gently underpins it with softer vocals, creating pleasing harmonies.
The song is loud, raw – “this is what you bought tickets for, bitch!” yells Hopkins.
Between songs, there is a lot of fun and entertaining discourse; PWR BTTM’s members – despite being out of the ordinary by a great deal of standards – come across as being particularly relatable and down to earth individuals, their stage presence is intoxicating.
“Here’s another song about gender and being a fag and all that” introduces ‘Ugly Cherries’, allowing Hopkins to display some trademark licks of furious guitar.
Hopkins always appears to be playing the guitar very gently and tenderly, the sound coming from it suggests otherwise, with some particularly diverse methods employed, ranging wonderfully and remaining unpredictable throughout.
Still on the drums, Bruce helms ‘Dairy Queen’ – a simple, elegant and joyous bubblegum-pop song about Jesus, apparently.
The end of this song is bolstered by some fast and furious guitar and bass, with Hopkins blowing the lid off of the vocal register.
Hopkins and Bruce swap over, with Bruce donning the guitar and Hopkins taking a seat behind the drums.
Although both members are dressed for the occasion, it is clear that Bruce has made more of an effort to look glamorous in the traditional sense.
If you love pop punk but haven’t heard it done well in years, listen to PWR BTTM, their respective guitar and drum work is clearly influenced by that of each other – they share a distinct style.
Their songs are fairly non-linear, embracing a vast number of influences and going in a great many directions; Hopkins brings a jovial energy to each song and the times between them.
The band reveal that CCA was able to make the last minute call to allow under eighteens into the venue – explaining that anytime this isn’t possible, it is on account of the venue or the law, not the intentions of the band – applause follows their declaration, it adds to the communal, inclusive nature of the evening.
This is at its core a rock show, a great one – one that is for everybody.
They play their excellent new single “LOL” alongside Orchards singer Lucy Evers; again, their range and approach is diverse and impressive.
Hopkins says that the UK is faster than the US at embracing “queer culture” and bands like PWR BTTM; seeing them as musicians rather than something different “to be discussed and unpacked” – which is a nice thing to share.
PWR BTTM explore themes, feelings and thoughts in their music that will be extremely helpful and enjoyable to many and tonight they deliver a very memorable, surprising, hilarious and enjoyable performance.
Words: Paul Aitken
Photos: Nathan Matheson