The only band I know from Rhode Island, in a famous way, was Talking Heads. I’m sure there have been more, but the Heads’ idiosyncratic music, framed by David Byrne’s quirky, abstract songwriting, was seared into my brain years ago. Along with a million other brains.
Now, along comes Downtown Boys, an otherwise straightforward punk outfit from Providence. The fact that the jackhammer lead singer is a woman (Victoria Ruiz) isn’t so unusual; nor the fact that the band is multi-racial and bilingual.
Cool thing No. 1: There’s a saxophone player in the band. No. 2, the band is vehemently political and speaks out on all-American issues like racism, police brutality and class warfare. Ruiz (a San Juan native) and guitarist Joey DeFrancesco (Sicilian-American) met as low-on-the-totem-pole employees of a tony Providence hotel known for its poor treatment of the hospitality staff. They both quit in disgust, DeFranceso videotaping his resignation (accompanied by a live brass band) for posterity (Impose calls them “The Wonder Twins of the Working Class”). And then Downtown Boys was born.
“Punk as an aesthetic and individualistic lifestyle means nothing,” De Francesco told an interviewer last month. “Punk as an ethics or collectivism, anti-oppression, and action can and should imbue everything from the stage to the picket line, but we have to make it mean that.”
The others on this bill are, of course, all local: Could Crazy Bag Lady be the bizarro Train Wrecks (ie the hardest-gigging punk band in town?) This is only the first of two shows for the explosive Guyton quartet this week; they’re also on the bill with Omingnome Saturday (July 19) at Ampersand.
Guitar player Hunter Jayne (Triathalon, Sauna Heat) and drummer John Zimmerman are all about garage noise as Wet Socks; Boy Harsher is experimental electronica from Jae Matthews and Gus Mueller.At 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16. 21+. $5.