“Why do we think that we never have enough with just what’s inside of us? Today, today we must scream at the top of our lungs that we are brown, we are smart, that nothing that they do can push it away!”
When Downtown Boys play live, lead singer Victoria Ruiz prefaces every song with a micro teach-in, taking the opportunity to speak honestly about police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, racism, sexism, gentrification, etc. In punk tradition, these teach-ins are meant to educate and empower, to unify the crowd, make people think before they rage.
Live, these introductions are usually longer than the snippet preserved on “Monstro,” but as they were omitted altogether on last Downtown Boys 7″, bringing them back reminds listeners that Downtown Boys are first and foremost a protest band. All the members have a background in activism and organizing, and that incendiary spirit is channeled in full on their songs. “She’s Brown! She’s Smart!” screams Ruiz on “Monstro”—an affirmation and a call to arms echoed by a battle-ready sax line, punctuating breathless call-and-response verses in an explosive burst of cathartic energy that brings forth radical possibility. In a moment marked by a growing claustrophobia with systemic injustice, Downtown Boys is the band we need most.
Full Communism is out May 4 on Don Giovanni.