March 16, 2016


Downtown Boys Inspire Radical Revolution at SXSW 2016

Jen Cray
Jen Cray

Music's magic lies in the unknown. What music will exist in the future? Will it be any good? How do we decide if its good? How do we continue to revolutionize it? What if we took the conversation a step further? What it we questioned the very motives of that thought? Enter Downtown Boys.

Playing an early afternoon slot on Tuesday (March 15) at the Side Bar, a smallish, darkish, definitely not punk-rock spot, Downtown Boys took the stage at their first-ever SXSW event. It was a night of firsts, including their first time ever working with four inputs, a conversation that lead to a lot finalized ideas: "More sax in this song! More bass in the next!" If the sound guy was really listening he would've plugged everything into the vocal mic of frontwoman Victoria Ruiz, whose political pontificating has become a regular and beloved part of the DB experience. The band itself is this fiery, bilingual, beautiful punk-rock thing...but so much of it is in the message.

While waiting for whatever technical difficulties to unravel, Ruiz compares her band to Bruce Springsteen and his working class rhetoric. She urges us that if he ever mentioned someone of color in one of his songs, the population of people who go to see him live would change. It's hard to argue with her.

When they figure everything out, they do so in a big way. There's more sax in this song, more in bass in the next. When it comes time for "Future Police," Ruiz opens with a mention of a recent Donald Trump protest wherein the end chant of young people was "We gonna be alright," young people obviously taking a page out of the book of Kendrick Lamar. She tells us to be alright we must "elect something that's immortal. That's power." 

It's hard to disagree with her. Now, to only get Ruiz and Lamar in a room together...