Fresh from the release of her epic latest album Bitchcraft – which was released via legendary label Kill Rock Stars earlier this year -, queer electro-pop artist Bitch has taken up a weekly residency at New York’s infamous Rockwood Music Hall. And I’m extremely excited that this coincides with my first ever trip to the Big Apple, and I get to witness this magnificent multi-disciplinary show.
Celebrating the album, which has apparently been eight years in the making, as Bitch takes to the stage in the intimate basement venue, she exudes a magnetising vibrant charisma and infectious joyous energy. Introducing the show as “a little jaunt through my herstory“, dedicated to dear Mother Earth and our on-going battle against capitalism, she kicks things off with the fizzing electro soundscape and catchy, whirring drive of ‘Hello Meadow’. Captivating the crowd with her quirky charm and the swirling musicality of sweeping electronic violin crescendos, each of us are instantly utterly immersed in this theatrical performance, singing along to the chorus and whooping in appreciation of Bitch’s exuberant power.
As Bitch notes down her thoughts with a giant pencil, the performance starts to take on an other-worldly aura; wonderfully blurring the lines between musical performance, stand-up comedy and poignant spoken word. Going on to animatedly share with us details about her childhood, with her boomer/tap-dancing teacher mother and angry father, Bitch proves herself to be the most bewitching of raconteurs – describing how, in a world that makes women and girls feel small, the violin became her voice and she felt able to begin the journey of liberating herself from the ties of a patriarchal society.
As we all unite in the joy of empowering anthems such as ‘You’re The Man’, Bitch emanates her colourful eccentricity, casting us under her spell as we delight in the effervescent power of her unique witch – or indeed Bitch – craft. Whether she’s wowing us with her immense keytar skills, the soaring prowess of the violin, or merely her deeply stirring words, it’s clear that we’re sharing in something truly special by being here – a rapturous call to feel free to be ourselves and fight against the misogynist norms of society.
Reflecting on one of these sexist tropes that has become ingrained in our thinking, Bitch points out that words are often used in a derogatory way against women: a prime example of this being the use of ‘Pussy’ to mean weak or inferior. She invites us to reclaim the word and use it in a positive way – and so we are introduced to her ‘Pussy Manifesto’, an empowering chant that she first shared whilst on tour (alongside partner Animal) with Ani DiFranco in 1998. As we all join in with the frenzied, driving force of each of the “mother-f***ing” manifestations – being reminded of all the ways in which the pussy is magical – a vibrant, euphoric energy fills the room, guided by Bitch’s affirming spirit.
From all too resonant reflections on climate change and our need to protect Mother Nature (‘Polar Bear’), to dedications to long-suffering women everywhere – particularly those of Texas, Oklahoma and Afghanistan – as she recognises that “the witch hunts never stopped” (‘Easy Target’), Bitch showcases her utterly unique knack for highlighting necessary, poignant subject-matter in a beautifully resplendent and delightfully accessible way.
Moving on to some more personal reflections about how she “fell off her broomstick for a while“, Bitch reminds us that it’s okay to not to be okay sometimes – to take time out from the world and focus on recuperating ourselves. Visualising the metaphor of building herself back up through a time of healing by putting together her magnificent bedazzling broomstick piece by piece, she then aurally delivers the sentiment with the sweeping soundscapes of ‘Fallen Witch 2’; a track that glitters with a life-affirming majesty.
And, with her sparkling broomstick now completely built, it’s time for Bitch to close this hour of the most empowering, enlightening shared experiences. Closing the set with soulful latest single ‘Pages’, she shares with her fellow witches the positive affirmations to “keep writing” and to “let pussy manifest and freedom sing“, and I’m left feeling truly revived and motivated; basking in Bitch’s spellbinding, vivacious energy and the queer, euphoric joy that has filled the room.
A truly magical evening. And one that I urge you to witness too, should Bitch’s wonderfully wacky witchery ever come your way.
Bitch’s latest album, Bitchcraft, is out now via Kill Rock Stars.