Downtown Boys are fast becoming known as one of the leading live acts on the American punk circuit, particularly in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island and New York City. The bilingual, multiracial and gender-integrated band are touring fresh from the release of their third full-length album Cost of Living in August. The album has garnered praise from the critical press and further cement Downtown Boys approach of politically fuelled punk with their penchant for the Saxophone and keyboards.
Due to their reputation as a leading live act, Downtown Boys came to The Shipping Forecast in Liverpool with great expectations on their shoulders. Underneath the bar and restaurant, in the darkened basement the stage was set for a riveting show. First on the bill were local band Eyesore & The Jinx who opened the show with great enthusiasm with driving bass lines, a guitar flowing with feedback and pounding drums. Following were another local band, this time OHMNS. OHMNS brought ferocious energy to the stage almost immediately. With two guitars duelling to be louder than the other as well as bass and drums dominating the rhythm, they filled the room. All four members shared vocals with various methods of bellowing out the lyrics. Overall, OHMNS brought a sonic presence to the room and set the stage for Downtown Boys to run riot.
Downtown Boys did just that. Opening with Clara Rancia and crowd favourite ‘Wave of History’ from their previous album Full Communism, they had the crowd moving and ready for more. Vocalist Victoria Ruiz took control of the whole room as soon as she stepped foot on stage, and off, and she patrolled the crowd getting right into the crowd. She also gave the audience a lot to think about as she delved into the meanings of songs fighting social injustice around the world, most notably the recent Puerto Rico earthquake and its aftermath (for which Downtown Boys collected donations to go straight to aid organisations).
It was now time for Downtown Boys to dive into their new songs, punching out song after song of relevant bite including ‘I’m Enough (I Want More)’ about standing up for yourself and not to let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough. Such messages are one of the reasons Downtown Boys stand out so readily in the musical landscape in 2017 with songs with great rhythm and melody with care and respect for the people around them.
Downtown Boys were commanding the stage with all members coming together perfectly. Guitarist Joey, bassist Mary, saxophonist and keyboardist Joe, as well as fill in drummer Fiona, laid the foundations for a punching yet accessible sound on every song. This included the anthemic ‘Lips That Bite’ as well as a cover of 90s Latin pop sensation Selena’s ‘Fotos Y Recuerdos’. They ripped through another three songs of their Cost of Living album, with the climax being ‘A Wall’. A scathing attack on Donald Trump and disrespect with lines such as “A wall is just a wall, a wall is a wall, and nothing more at all” so no barriers can hold you back. The performance showed Downtown Boys’ inclusive side as Victoria Ruiz put the microphone to the mouths of fans in addition to herself, creating a battle cry for inclusion and social injustice.