Sheer Mag Shreds AS220
That ever-so-famous phrase, “punk is dead,” has been said by at least one person a day giving their opinion on music, but whoever says that hasn’t experienced what has been happening in Providence recently. Hairspray Queen are a bunch of kids who play emphatic hardcore punk that’s intense and emotional. Downtown Boys have been gaining success by the second with their recent signing to the legendary Seattle label Sub-Pop because of their intense sounds and fearless political stances. These two bands are among the many in Providence bringing punk back to people’s ears. On April 13, both acts took the stage at AS220 in downtown PVD with Philadelphia phenoms Sheer Mag.
Hairspray Queen started things off with their energetic style to get the mood right. It was rapid fire from the get-go with endless shredding courtesy of guitarists Ian Benoit and Nathan Phrathep during “Basement” and “Ploy.” Frontman Raymond Fernandez leaped off the stage in front of the crowd multiple times. While “Glass” was being performed, people began moving around. Bassist Ben Bigelow and drummer Joshua Rodriguez were the rhythmic anchor of the band’s entire set. The band laid further claim to being the best act in Providence who haven’t been around for a full calendar year yet, and it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the city notices.
Taking the second slot were Sheer Mag, a unique band to say the least. It’s not everyday that you hear a punk band sounding like a mix between Blondie and Thin Lizzy, but that’s the best way to describe this act. Starting their set off into an instrumental guitar ripper “Button Up,” they brought a vintage vibe. Lead singer Tina Halladay seemed to be feeling a bit under the weather but she belted through “Can’t Stop Fighting,” “Play It Cool” and “Fan The Flames” with no problems. Guitarists Kyle Seely and Matt Palmer were electrifying while exuding a chrome tone, with Kyle’s brother Hart Seely on bass and Ian Dykstra on drums as the engine driving a fantastic performance.
Downtown Boys finished the night off with vocalist Victoria Ruiz giving praise to both Hairspray Queen and Sheer Mag before the band got into it with “Promissory Note.” “A Wave Of History” had guitarist Joey DeFrancesco jumping up and down in crazed fashion while screaming into his microphone. The breakdown coming through at different intervals from Joe DeGeorge on the keys was a bit interesting during “Somos Chulas,” reminiscent of 1970s progressive rock. Concluding the evening was “Monstro,” an anthem that calls out the hypocrisy of the War On Drugs and how it fuels the systematic racism that afflicts the United States.
Ruiz jumped from the stage into the mosh pit with her microphone still in her hand numerous times during Downtown Boys’ performance, and the show ended on a vibrant note. Both Hairspray Queen and Downtown Boys plan on releasing new albums later this year and Sheer Mag are bound to put out their debut full-length in the future. It was a great night in front of a packed house on a Thursday in the city.
AS220, 115 Empire St, PVD. Web: as220.org
Hairspray Queen: hairsprayqueen.bandcamp.com
Sheer Mag: sheermag.bandcamp.com
Downtown Boys: downtownboys.bandcamp.com