Metro Weekly

PWR BTTM: Ragingly flamboyant queer punk

"My favorite thing is telling the band name to people who don't know what a PWR BTTM is"

PWR BTTM -- Photo: Ebru Yildiz
PWR BTTM — Photo: Ebru Yildiz

“My favorite thing is telling the band name to people who don’t know what a PWR BTTM is,” says Liv Bruce, one of the co-founders of the ragingly flamboyant queer punk duo. “They just kind of nod and go okay, cool. Whereas, anyone who knows what the term power bottom means are like, ‘Oh, my God! You have a band called PWR BTTM?!’ Yeah, that’s fun for me.”

Bruce and Ben Hopkins, both 24, met while at Bard, a noted liberal arts university, where they forged the band. “We never anticipated our band being anything,” says Hopkins, who seems as surprised as Bruce by PWR BTTM’s surging popularity. Part of that may be their gift for creating melodic punk rock, but they also push imagery to the extreme, evidenced by their over-the-top videos for “Ugly Cherries” (also the name of their most recent album) and the alluring “I Wanna Boi.”

Liv is gender-fluid and both prefer the they/their pronoun over the binary he/she. “Sexuality is complicated,” says Liv. “Generally, I know nine times out of ten, the people I’m attracted to identify as men.” Ben is more direct. “I’m just sort of attracted to people,” they say, preferring not to be pigeonholed as either gay or straight. “It’s all so oppressive, isn’t it? Like, to be told that you’re not gay enough to be part of a gay community, but you’re not straight enough to be part of a straight community.”

The band is known for refusing to perform in venues that don’t offer a gender neutral restroom for its audience. “Many of our fans are gender nonconforming,” says Liv. “And public restrooms are frequently a site of micro and macro aggression towards gender nonconforming people.

“Water is such an important thing to humans, and so many battlegrounds for civil rights of various kinds are access to water in various ways — pools, drinking fountains,” they continue. “Bathrooms make sense as a battleground for social issues.” —Randy Shulman

PWR BTTM appears at the Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE, on Monday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 to $14. Call 202-388-7625 or visit

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