“It’s politics and theatre but also there’s a literary aspect and I get to write lyrics. Also getting into music has been awesome for me cause it’s a technical skill set which is not something I had. I grew up with only girls in a pretty stereotypical way and like, a guitar is a machine and I like that, and I like figuring it out.”
Providence-based duo Fine., Iz Dungan and Ly Barber, make music that is equal parts tender and punk. Their songs feature a distinct combination of strong guitar riffs, occasional screaming, and reflective lyrics about self-love, queerness, and healing. Their music is a product of a deep friendship, a collaboration apparent in their recorded music and live shows. The pair dropped their first full-length album, Flesh//Vessel in late 2018. I spoke to Iz and Ly a few months after the release about the band’s evolution, building community, and “screaming about being really gay.”
What happened while recording this EP: the surprise onset of diabetic ketoacidosis and the impromptu removal of a cracked molar during a studio session.
Throughout the show, Mitski kept the chitchat to a minimum, barely ever venturing beyond short quips of graciousness and humility.
The Funky Jungle is a pillar of Providence’s underground music scene. It’s an artist colony of sorts, with its basement serving as a venue. It has existed for perhaps three or four years, which is not that long so far as humans go but is on the order of a respectable middle age in scene years. It squats in the midst of a maze of identical college apartments near the campus of Providence College, blending in externally but harboring sonic subcultures in its depths. The decrepit rooms are heavily graffitied with contributions from every resident that has ever come through. “FUK U MOM & DAD” a basement rafter declares. A Cheshire Cat drawn at the entrance to the stairwell grins manically. “We’re all mad here…” it says.
The story with the Columbus begins when we’re coming home from a Smart Flesh tour and I’m having a slice of pizza across the street from the Columbus and the marquee on the Columbus says ‘Opening Soon’ and I realize it has said that for so many years that I’ve lived in Providence.
It’s not every day that you hear the words "crisp intergalactic political punk” and “bilingual radical dance sax party” used to describe the same thing, but the Downtown Boys certainly fit the bill. As it turns out, their roots are just as mixed-up and far-reaching as their sound. In their eyes, the politics and message of punk rock are not to be divorced from the music and culture. And tonight, they’ve brought along a sick trio of openers with them, each from different corners of the scene.
The Oakland band is something of an institution among today’s retrophilic youth. Their aesthetic is homemade 1950’s pop blended with a good amount of growl, mean punky spirit and sheer play -- a white bread American Dream, minus the white bread and plus a lot of sass and sex appeal. This is a band you love to watch. This is a band you fall in love with.
What Cheer? is more than just a band. It’s a community. They have ties to many of Providence’s local arts organizations, like AS220, New Urban Arts, and 186 Carpenter, as well as other brass bands across the nation. Photos by Ruba Aleryani.