Downtown Boys at Union Pool (photo by Kate Hoos)
On Tuesday, January 25th, long running political dance punk band, Downtown Boys, and Brooklyn grunge rock band, Oceanator, delivered highly energized sets to a tightly packed room at Brooklyn’s Union Pool. This show marked the fourth of the “Free Tuesdays” winter concert series that kicked off at the start of the year and which runs through February, hopefully continuing for many seasons to come like their “Summer Thunder” series has.
Oceanator opened the show and performed mostly tracks off their latest record, Nothing’s Ever Fine (one of our favorites of 2022), as well as an exciting brand new tune. Frontwoman Elise Okusami generously provided plenty of guitar shreds onstage as bassist Dylan Lapointe and drummer Jahari Fleetwood laid out the beats during their eight-song set. This show also marks their last show in the US before heading out on a three-week long European tour with post-hardcore band La Dispute in April. They have been touring vigorously over the past year, sharing stages with acts such as Pile, Jeff Rosenstock, and Queen of Jeans among others and have steadily been releasing music over the past few years. We wish them well during their time abroad and can’t wait to catch them back around town again!
Unless you’re a certified Grinch, it’s impossible not to have a good time at a Downtown Boys show. Congruent to their ethos is a sense of sustained community, and that definitely came through at Union Pool, thanks to the band and everyone else who was in attendance at the show. At the start of their set, singer Victoria Ruiz requested that audience members allow others who “may not have as much body mass in the vertical department” as them to be in front. Many obliged and what ensued was an hour full of singing, dancing, sweating, high-fives, fist pumps and good vibes in a room full of familiar faces and new friends alike.
Downtown Boys at Union Pool
Between songs, Ruiz also brought attention to issues regarding abortion access on demand and for any reason, white supremacy, Palestinian liberation, and capitalism, which much of the band’s music addresses. There were fourteen songs in the set, with highlights including the pairing of “100% Inheritance Tax” and “Wave Of History,” to kick things off and “Monstro” at the conclusion of the set, all from 2015’s Full Communism. In between those strong bookends, several songs from both albums made their way into the set with massive reaction to favorites like “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas),” “A Wall” and their lively cover of Selena’s “Fotos Y Recuerdos.” Before the song’s start, Ruiz proclaimed, “You might think it’s a Pretenders cover, but it’s not! It’s a Selena cover!” They also included their high octane cover of the 1987 classic “Poder Elegir,” by Los Prisioneros, explaining the legacy of the influential Chilean band before beginning.
From the epic sax solos of Joe DeGeorge to the fast-paced southpaw drumming of Joey Doubek and slick infectious guitar riffs from Joey DeFrancesco, there was no shortage of talented musicianship onstage backing up the powerhouse vocals of Ruiz. Bassist Mary Regalado was unfortunately sick so could not play the show but a fill-in bassist, Tony, was able to step in to fill her shoes and they did an incredible job. Ruiz went down into the crowd multiple times during the band’s set, trading places with several audience members who happily made their way to the stage to dance, sing and cheer along. At the conclusion of the set, fans were not quite ready for the night to end and shouted for more. The sweaty and exuberant band members didn’t leave the crowd hanging and quickly returned to the stage to give us one more, playing their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s iconic 1984 hit, “Dancing In The Dark.”
Although this show was not their first since the start of the pandemic, Downtown Boys have not performed very much over the past few years so this was quite a special occasion. Their next show is a sold out abortion funds benefit this Saturday, January 28th at Bowery Ballroom (read more), where they’ll be playing with several other artists including Horsegirl, Katy Kirby, Weeping Icon and Wet. We are so glad we were able to catch them at such a small venue tonight and look forward to rocking out with them again soon!
Scroll down for setlists, pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Oceanator Setlist: Morning, Bad Brain Daze, Solar Flares, A Crack in the World, New One, Stuck, From the Van, Evening
Downtown Boys Setlist: 100% Inheritance Tax, Wave of History, I’m Enough (I Want More), Lips That Bite, Promissory Note, Fotos Y Recuerdos (Selena cover), Tonta, Poder Elegir (Los Prisioneros cover), Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas), Break A Few Eggs, Because You, L’internationale, A Wall, Monstro Encore: Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)