Looking around Philamoca, faces are covered in glitter, clothes are covered in lights, and uniqueness overwhelms the room. The inclusive lineup of the night included Naked Giants, Mal Blum and the Blums, and PWR BTTM. All of the bands made everyone feel so welcome and wanted. The dynamic between the artists and the audience was something I have never experienced before. At points during the show, I wasn’t sure if I was at a comedy show or a concert. All three bands were making jokes and making the crowd continuously laugh.
At 8 pm sharp, garage rock band Naked Giants took the stage. This is the three-piece band’s first time touring on the East coast, but hopefully not the last. The guys jumped right into the music and gave the early crowd a head banging time. All three members energies bounced off one another. Bassist Gianni Aiello danced around the stage in robotic type movements, while Grant Mullen rocked on his guitar and mic, and drummer Henry LaVallee would occasionally pop up from his seat to yell into the crowd or start clapping. Sometimes it is hard being the opening act because no one really knows who you are, this did not stop Naked Giants from giving it their all and putting on a fun rock show. They lightened up the mood towards the end of their set when they took turns messing up the last song. Their resilience was enjoyable and hilarious.
After Naked Giants, Mal Blum and the Blums had a quick turnover to start their set. Throughout the setlist, Mal Blum would talk about what the song Mal was about to sing was about. It is a nice touch to connect with the audience, bringing a deeper meaning to their music, making themselves more relatable as well. The band had some banter going on and it showed how close they were. During the last song, Ben Hopkins of PWR BTTM went in front of the stage and started fake playing Mal Blum’s guitar. At the end of the set, they gave each other hugs and solidified the feeling a familial bond.
The long-awaited queer punk band PWR BTTM was finally about to take the stage, so bodies moved closer up, packing in the sold out show.
Ben Hopkins came on stage wearing a long red flower dress with a full face of glitter and Liv Bruce in a shorter floral dress. In the front row, two young girls dressed in homemade PWR BTTM shirts with unicorns painted on, called Ben down to tell him he looked pretty, to which he replied, “Liv is the pretty one, I look scary.”
Ben started the show by addressing the audience that tonight will have no moshing and to respect everyone’s space. If anyone was uncomfortable, they were told to get PWR BTTM’s attention and they would stop it. In a world where there is a lot of hate going on right now, it is important to make the venue a safe space for everyone. Throughout the show, Ben, Liv, and Ben’s mom brought up many issues within the queer community that a lot of their songs are written about, such as using the correct pronouns, not understanding the terms, and what it feels like to live in a world you are not accepted in. They also spoke on topics that the nation is facing as a whole and emphasized staying safe and looking out for one another.
Ben and Liv took turns switching between guitar and drums, both equally impressive at both. The duo is so incredibly talented on guitar, you have to see it to believe it.
The setlist had a mix of both old and new songs from their upcoming album, Pageant, coming out May 12. The new album has a few songs with horns and a few that feature Ben’s mom’s vocals. The whole room fell in love all of the new tracks, so it will be interesting to hear the recorded version.
The night was filled with so much love, acceptance, and undeniable talent. If you could not get tickets in time, PWR BTTM is coming back to Philly on June 17th to Union Transfer. The Philamoca show sold out instantly, so grab your tickets ASAP.