boygenius perform Nashville show in drag in protest against Tennessee governor: ‘F**k Bill Lee’

Indie rock supergroup boygenius have given the middle finger to Tennessee governor Bill Lee and his recent wave of anti-drag legislation – by donning gender-bending looks during a concert in Nashville.

Queer musicians Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, aka boygenius, are the supergroup making every sapphic’s dream come true right now – aided in no small part by their debut album, the record, and accompanying sad-girl-summer tour.

After kicking off in Los Angeles in April, the tour has taken the band across America, and will also see them perform in the UK.

Although not technically billed as part of the tour, the group also performed as part of music festival Re:SET Nashville, at The Great Lawn in Centennial Park, in the state capital at the weekend.

It was there, during the city’s Pride month celebrations, that the supergroup decided to protest against controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed in Tennessee by Lee, which ban minors from receiving gender-affirming care and prevent drag queens from performing in certain public spaces.

The crowd soon realised that all three of “The Boys” had swapped their usual stage suits for flamboyant drag, complete with harnesses, sky-high wigs and exaggerated makeup. They even introduced their new drag names: Queef Urban (Bridgers), Lucille Balls (Dacus), and Shanita Tums (Baker).

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In a final stroke of – pardon the pun – genius, even the cameraman seems to have got in on the spirit of the gig, with a sundress.

Later in the show, Baker paused to give a powerful speech, taking aim at the Republican governor, leading the crowd in a “F–k Bill Lee” chant.

“Today, I’m so grateful for my life, not because I get to stand on stage with my best friends… but because I’m content with the person that I am,” she said. “I have a lot of anger for the people [who] have made me feel small and erased.

“And I’ve found it’s a really powerful and humiliating tool to make those people f–k off,” the musician continued. “I would like you to scream so loud that governor Lee can hear you.

“Can we say ‘F–k Bill Lee’ on three?” Bridgers then asked the crowd, before leading a countdown that ended with thousands of fans screaming in unison.

The band’s protest prompted a wave of appreciation from queer fans across the globe.

Pride is a protest, happy Pride from boygenius playing tonight in Tennessee,” one social media user wrote.

Another, more enthusiastic fan tweeted: “Boygenius said f*ck Tennessee lawmakers, I know that’s right,” and a third was full of praise, writing: “Whoever did the boygenius members’ drag looks, I hope your pillow is cold on both sides tonight, you deserve it.”

The Adult Entertainment Act was the first anti-drag bill to pass through a US state legislature and be signed into law.

It would have come into effect in April and prevented drag performances anywhere a minor might see them. However, the legislation was suspended after federal judge Thomas Parker passed a temporary injunction to block the bill from being enacted. In a 70-page ruling on 2 June, Parker said the court concluded the state drag ban was “both unconstitutionally vague and substantially over-broad”.

The bill was thrown out so although boygenius performing in drag wasn’t illegal, the move was still a bold statement given hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community.

The band has previously spoken about being “pretty into the queer joy concept and lifestyle”, with all three members identifying as LGBTQ+.

The trio will play their first-ever UK dates this summer. Fans can get their hands on tickets via Ticketmaster and See Tickets.