A new kind of punk: Downtown Boys at Mississippi Studios


by Rose Blanton

The political landscape that Americans’ are dwelling in is a special kind of insanity. While so many incredibly outdated ways of life seem to keep dragging on by the scrape of their teeth and so many marginalized groups are still fighting for basic rights and needs, what can you do? For starters you can go watch Downtown Boys and and get inspired to kick some white supremacy ass.

The downtown boys hail from Rhode Island but don’t let that fool you. White men are the minority in this punk band and white supremacy is their target. Downtown boys are not complacent and are hitting fascism, racism, and capitalism (just about every -ism) over the head repeatedly. They won’t stand aside and they won’t put their heads in the sand. They know the marginalized have stayed quiet long enough and they are rising up. They steadily gained momentum with each album hopping from Sister Polygon records, to Don Giovanni, and over to the Mecca of indie music, Sub Pop. Downtown Boys are touring behind their latest album Cost of Living. They’re pretty standard punk, although they do have a taste of The Specials or Springsteen with a saxophone on their roster.

I caught the Downtown Boys’ set at Mississippi Studios, where they played a compilation of the catalog but focused mostly on their latest release. Among the tracks where “A Wall,” “I’m Enough (I want More)” and “Somos Chulas”. During the set, Victoria Ruiz (the front women for downtown boys) also had the crowd wish her grandmother a Happy Birthday. Truly at the heart of every hardcore punk is a heart of gold. Ruiz lead her band mates and the crowd with guttural power and during the raucous show I was impressed with the knowledge and informative presence the band has. This is not just a punk band, this is a step in the right direction, and this is a rebellion to what’s happening in our political realm. Between almost every song Ruiz has words of inspiration and wisdom. Among her many idioms, I’ll share a few of my favorites:

“Don’t set yourself one fire to keep White Supremacy warm.”

“There isn’t room for everyone at the table, not when that seat requires you to be silent, lets build a new part of the table”

“The truth doesn’t set you free”

I love how Ruiz takes age-old adages and turns them on their head, just like she is doing with the musical landscape. Punk, for a long time has been a genre of music ruled by white man and Ruiz and her band are breaking that mold. Their shows are power packed energy missiles sent into the atmosphere with the message “Fuck white supremacy” written in bold letters.