On Wednesday night, a small all-boys choir assembled on the steps of Federal Hall, set up a music stand next to the statue of George Washington, and prepared to sing for a crowd of New Yorkers. They were dressed impeccably in Ben Sherman peacoats, each with a tartan scarf and a newsboy cap. It would be hard to imagine a more adorable group of kids to sing Christmas carols.
But this was no sweet and wholesome caroling session — instead of singing "Holly Jolly Christmas," the choir launched into a spirited version of the anarchic anthem "I Fought the Law."
It was a scene that would have made The Clash, who famously covered the song, very proud. The bankers leaving work and tourists walking around this historic part of town all gathered around expecting the angelic, dulcet-toned voices to sing of holiday cheer. It was a bit jarring, then, to hear grinning eight-year-olds belt out the phrase "Robbing people with a six-gun."
From the Financial District, the young singers traveled on to the Washington Square Arch and then to Grand Central Terminal for more performances. As the crowds grew used to the idea, several embraced the subversive approach to Christmas caroling and began to sing along. The sheer volume of phones held aloft to record video created a glow, a spotlight of sorts for the boys.
But don't worry, things never got too civilized. As a final gesture toward the powers that be, one of the wee kids outfitted in newsboy cap and scarf approached the music stand and just brutally dropkicked the thing, sending the papers flying and leaving the crowds aghast. The next time these kids fight the law, the law's not going to win.