Downtown Boys Concert Review

Downtown Boys
August 21st, 2017
White Schoolhouse - Lawrence, KS

Victoria Ruiz of Downtown Boys
Lawrence, Kansas saw the light  Monday evening at the White Schoolhouse. Rhode Island's most infamous political punk band, Downtown Boys, made its first trip to the college town to perform a half-hour set that aimed to uplift the downtrodden and amplify the voices of the oppressed.

The light witnessed on Monday came in several forms. Folks across the Midwest gazed up at the solar eclipse, and later in the afternoon, witnessed an all-encompassing lightning storm illuminate the sky that had fallen dark hours before. Another light that shined was one emitted from the instruments of Downtown Boys and the microphone of vocalist Victoria Ruiz. Ruiz preached about toppling the patriarchal, capitalist systems that disenfranchise women, people of color, the LGBT, and other communities around the world.

Ruiz latched on to the arc of light and dark herself in her passionate speeches that dotted the band's furious set. She was also gracious enough to hand the mic off to a friend who spoke to the crowd about donating money towards the legal fees of those protesting Trump's inauguration.

Saxophonist Joe DeGeorge was a bit too busy during a riotous performance of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark," but later found time to execute some courageous pogo hops despite the low ceiling. The band's new record "Cost Of Living" came out just last week. Many of its songs creep into post-punk territory, but one of the band's final songs for the evening was the brash album-opener "A Wall" and anyone who had heard the album screamed along to its powerfully simple lyrics.

And while many of Downtown Boys' songs called for tearing down walls and fighting the man, others focused on building others up. "She's brown / She's smart," wailed Ruiz on "Brown and Smart," a song about facing down white fragility and giving brown girls their due praise.

At the request of everyone's favorite Rhode Islanders, Kansas City's Warm Bodies was one of the evening's local bands. The schoolhouse's basement had become remarkably muggy by the time the Bodies launched into their set, but they were still running on all cylinders and impressed a Lawrence crowd that they don't often visit.

Warm Bodies reflected Downtown Boys' punk rock sound a bit more closely, but experimental hip-hop trio Ebony Tusks mirrored several aspects of the headliner's political nature. Martinez Hillard waded through the audience as he rapped about police harassment, giving his all in engaging the sea of people that surrounded him.

Full photo gallery here.

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