5 things you need prior to a PWR BTTM concert
- A good lipstick shade
- An outfit that is comprised of funky patterns, bright colors, and/or anything mesh
- Shoes to dance in
- More glitter
Since Sunday night I have showered three times and my hair is still shedding silver and gold glitter. My sheets are spotted with the remnants of the blue mascara that was covering my eyebrows approximately 48 hours ago. It’s hard to convey the magic that occurs at a PWR BTTM concert. Starting with the name of the band, the shows are unapologetically queer, but I think the importance of PWR BTTM concerts lie in the safe spaces that they create. At every concert venue, the bathrooms are turned into gender-neutral bathrooms for the night, allowing individuals to focus on the music being played rather than gendering themselves while they go pee.
The authenticity found at PWR BTTM concerts is rare with other bands. Liv and Ben, two trans-feminine members of the band write their music about queerness. In “I Wanna Boi, they sing “I wanna boi who thinks its sexy when my lipstick bleeds/I wanna boi who can go all night without stopping/I wanna boi who knows exactly what he needs.” In “Serving Goffman” they sing “I want to put the whole world in drag/But I’m starting to realize it’s already like that.” At every show, Liv wears incredible shades of lipstick while Ben’s face is covered in multiple layers of glitter. Everything about the band is interconnected with Liv and Ben’s identities as queer and trans individuals. On Sunday, between bars and lyrics, vocalist Ben talked about how they wished the Apple store sold weed (and how they wished they could buy the weed in exchange for a blowjob). Liv told a story about hooking up with a boy from Grindr and spoke about the process of shaving as a Jewish trans-feminine individual.
When looking through the crowd, 99% of the audience was shimmering—quite literally. There was glitter everywhere. Everyone’s make up was on point. For a band to create a space that people feel comfortable enough to express themselves so authentically without fear is rare. When Liv and Ben begin “I Wanna Boi,” everyone is singing along. Fans know every word. They relate to the words being sung. This is not to say that going to PWR BTTM concerts with make up on or dressed up exists without fear. In fact, for many, the only safe space in the entire process is the actual show. The process of getting to and from the venue incites fear due to larger societal expectations of the ways in which people should express themselves. But as PWR BTTM reminds fans: queer is invincible.
Ever since my first PWR BTTM concert a few months ago, I have gone to other concerts hoping for the same unapologetic sense of self from both the artist and the crowd members. Most of the time, I leave impressed with the artist’s talent, but feeling like I am missing something as an audience member. Why is talking about love so acceptable in the music industry, but explicit queerness almost always seems to be missing? If queerness is discussed, it is oftentimes in code or vague. With the rise in PWR BTTM’s fame, I worry that these queer spaces wont be as accessible. Both PWR BTTM shows that I have attended were 16+ and at a small venue in Denver. However, within the last month or so, they’ve received coverage from sites like AV Club and NYLON. What happens when ticket prices go up? Will they start being booked at 21+ venues? What will happen to the 16 year old queer high school fans that feel like they can authentically express themselves at PWR BTTM concerts? This is not to say that PWR BTTM’s rise to fame is not well deserved, but I do wonder what will happen as they continue to gain traction in the current music scene. But for now, I try to remind myself that queer is invincible, even within the capitalist heteronormative music scene.