Freddie Pays Homage to Radical Queer Activism with ‘Bashback!’

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 (Photo: courtesy of the artist, illustration: Kelly Heigert)

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where every week we feature new music by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverage here.

Peaceful protest has its virtues, but Freddie makes the case that self-defense against oppressive people and systems is also necessary in their new single, “Bashback!”

The mosh pit-worthy trap song arrives just in time for Pride month, when vital community-building, artistry and visibility can be overshadowed by corporate-sponsored floats and rainbow capitalism. Freddie looks deeper and pays homage to the radical past and present of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The title of the track echoes the “Queers bash back” slogan used by the grassroots activist groups ACT UP and Queer Nation. In the early 1990s, Queer Nation activists patrolled the streets of San Francisco, and the slogan became their mantra as they fought back against gay bashers and harassers. In the late 2000s, an LGBTQ+ anarchist collective called Bash Back! sprung up in Chicago to continue that tradition of direct action.

In a similarly brash spirit, Freddie raps double-time with an audible fieriness about bringing “the system to its knees.” With speaker-shaking bass, the undulating beat shifts tempos during pivotal points of Freddie’s lyrics; they turn up the intensity with their rapid-fire rapping and then bring us down to earth with their soulful singing voice. “Bashback!” clocks in at just a minute and 30 seconds, but packs a powerful punch of drama and catharsis.


It’s no wonder that Freddie has become a powerful voice in the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ community. Last weekend, they sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (also known as the Black National Anthem) at the Pride Movie Night at Oracle Park, and they’re also booked to perform at Swagger Like Us’ Juneteenth celebration at El Rio and legendary drag club Oasis’ grand reopening party, Princess, on June 26.