When PWR BTTM takes the stage, it doesn't take long to figure out what you're going to get. From the first glitter-smeared seconds of the set-opening "Silly," the band came to shred and swagger with infectious joy, complete with backbends and solos and spangly outfits — at least one of which wouldn't survive the band's set at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas, recorded live for NPR Music Wednesday night.
But the pop-punk band, expanded since its formation from a duo to a four-piece with the addition of keyboardist Cameron West (who also plays French horn) and bassist Michael Politowicz, also paused for lengthy, heartfelt, frequently hilarious digressions. For every aside about the power and importance of music as a way to unite and protect the vulnerable, Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce would hold court about vegan hollandaise sauce, the importance of tipping bartenders, or a fervently expressed desire to "drown in Topo Chico."
PWR BTTM weighted its set heavily toward material from the forthcoming Pageant, due out May 12 — and even brought out Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray For The Riff Raff to join in for a shared performance of its song "LOL." And, in keeping with the free-wheeling banter that preceded it, Hopkins had to pause to praise Segarra's outfit: "You look like Patti Smith if she had an Etsy store." For PWR BTTM, a perfectly balanced cocktail of blunt aggression and pointed playfulness — wryly self-effacing but always boldly rendered — proved virtually impossible to resist.
- "Ugly Cherries"
- "Big Beautiful Day"
- "Answer My Text"
- "New Trick"
- "I Wanna Boi"
Producers: Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Mito Habe-Evans; Director: Mito Habe-Evans; Technical Director: Josh Rogosin; Audio Engineer: Timothy Powell/Metro Mobile; Concert Videographers: Lizzie Chen, Nickolai Hammar, Katie Hayes Luke, Colin Marshall, Kelly West; Editor: Annabel Edwards; Supervising Editor: Niki Walker; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann; Special Thanks: SXSW, Stubb's BBQ