PWR BTTM’s debut show on Irish shores is a Monday night sell-out at the Workman’s Club. A buzz has slowly been building around the New York duo’s maiden trip making for an array of desperate pleas for last minute tickets wallpapering Twitter throughout the day. Dealing in brash, bold and sometimes chaotic music, the pair deal with occasionally weighty and complicated lyrical statements in a cathartic and unifying fashion – they are not dictating to the listener, but rather inviting them along for the journey as we all seek to make sense of the world as it is.
Debut record Ugly Cherries was released in September 2015 and is set to be followed by sophomore effort Pageant this May. From what we’ve heard on three tracks released already, this LP is set to be another sizeable step forward for Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce.
Taking the stage to a rapturous response (“Oh my fucking goodness, what is good Dublin??’’) and bolstered to a three-piece courtesy of bass player Dan from support band Orchards (purportedly after only one practice session as a band), ground rules are laid down early doors in terms of respecting the space of others which proves no issue in a room powered by a joyous, celebratory air.
In Hopkins, we are treated to a veritable powerhouse of between song chatter, covering topics around drag, gender, wigs, empathy, boundaries, cavalier dress purchases (“Let fall what may’’), classical theatre studies and hashtags, a lot of hashtags. Huge singalongs for the likes of ‘Ugly Cherries’ and ‘Dairy Queen’, featuring Liv delivering her first lead vocal of the night, are followed in quick succession by a riotous ‘Answer My Text’ and ‘I Wanna Boi’, introduced by Bruce vowing she “hadn’t felt a feeling since I wrote this song”.
There are gifts offered from the audience throughout, a tricolour emblazoned with PWR BTTM, a bow for Liv that is proudly worn for the encore, but the real take home from a thoroughly life affirming show is the palpable sense of power endowed by PWR BTTM’s message of inclusivity, diversity, and hope. The encore itself is an excellent summation of the set on a whole – ‘Carbs’ from 2014’s debut EP Cinderella Beauty Shop is a riot (“Don’t want no vegetables/All I wanna eat is carbs!”) while ‘Styrofoam’, an as yet unheard cut from Pageant receives one of its first live airings, with an impassioned plea for videos not to be taken of the performance. It’s a raw show stopper as well as a show ender, and whets the appetite further for what is shaping up to be a real statement release.
These glitter strewn outsiders are evidently winning legions of followers in every town they visit with a euphoric, theatrical, anthemic, relatable catalogue; don’t be surprised to see them in a significantly bigger room when they return.