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‘Your Life In America’, Ceremony Will Play 3 Nights In A Row At The Echo In May



Ceremony is a band I have seen a lot around 2012, then they kind of disappeared from my radar… They played at the Center for the Arts in 2012, I saw them again at the FYF fest the same year, when I had seen them at MacArthur Park a year before, opening for a clash reunion of Black Flag/No Age. These shows were my first experience with punk hardcore, they were insanely violent, especially the one at the Center for the Arts… I remember these piles of bodies, these trembling amps on each side of the stage, it got scary but nothing could have stopped these people.

Ceremony is coming back, and this is why I am thinking about them again, whereas it’s a bit unusual because they don’t have a new album to promote. Spaceland, the FYF fest and Sound and Fury offer you three nights of Ceremony on May 18th, 19th and 20th at the Echo. ‘Your Life In America’ is a retrospective residency with Ceremony, different sets curated from the entire band’s catalogue, and featuring The World, The Coltranes, Leisure World, DJ Bethany Cosentino on Thursday 18th, Antwon, Sabertooth Zombie, DJ Tamaryn on Friday 19th, and Sex Stains, Cold Beat, DJ Rob Moran on Saturday 20th. The 3-Day passes are already sold out, but tickets for each individual evening are still available, probably not for very long.

This is what I wrote on Thursday March 8th 2012, when I saw Ceremony at the Center For the Arts, already organized by the FYF fest.

Ceremony at the Center for the Arts was an intense sweat bath, a pile of bodies forming the biggest melee I have ever seen. As soon as Ceremony opened with the tribal beats and violent riffs of their first song ‘Hysteria’, people were leaning on the stage, pushing like a herd of hungry animals, climbing on each other, beating imaginary drums, making one huge human wall that some others were restlessly climbing,… err did you say hysteria?

And I immediately thought, ‘there’s no way I can stay in the front’, if I had tried I would have certainly been crushed by this human tsunami right away, although I saw some brave (or totally insane?) petite girls braving the wave of testosterone and staying front row during the whole show… But I went on the side of the stage and I should thank the organizers who allowed me to stay there (I think it was FYF fest founder Sean Carlson who told me I was fine there!), giving me the best place to observe this human twister.

Frontman and singer Ross Farrar, shouting his repetitive lines with a raging conviction, was taking a real pleasure in his constant assaults toward the crowd, which was responding with more body-contact that in a Hieronymus Bosch’s painting. He got involved in the mosh pit more than once, but at this point, people were crushing themselves so much against the very low stage of the venue, that they had invaded it, before diving back into the mayhem.

It was impressive and scary as hell at time, as the tall amp on my left was shaking and moving, barely maintained in place by men who were applying all their body mass on it to be sure it would not fall. People were simply nuts, all possessed by the rawness of the sound, and Farrar was anxiously walking on stage like an enraged drunken guy, yelling and venting his furious vocals sometimes barely audible above viscous and irritated guitars, and stomping drums.

Ceremony’s violent riffs, going from fast pure punk rage to unsafe loud hardcore, were extremely powerful and were deeply moving people physically and emotionally. It was as if these young guys were unleashing all their anger at once, and magically the produced chaos was making a truly beautiful ensemble, all arms raised toward the same goal at the same time. The proof? I was shooting pictures carelessly, as much as I could, and many of them turned out unexpectedly good.

Despite the chaos, I recognized many songs of Ceremony’s new album ‘Zoo’, as they sounded a little different and more upbeat than their older material, although most of the time they were embodying the same violence, simply decorated with more hooks. There were ‘World Blue’ and its fake stop-starts, the slower and more monotonous ones like ‘Repeating the circle’, during which the crowd almost took a sort of break, and the aggressiveness of power-chord-numbers like ‘Citizen’ and ‘Adult’. They also kept coming back to some songs off their 2010 album ‘Rohnert Park’ and their 2006 ‘Violence Violence’.

Ceremony, which does even have a Facebook page (they do now), had easily sold out the show organized by the FYF Fest. If they claim to get their broad influences from bands like Joy Division, Pink Floyd, Negative Approach, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies and Tom Waits, I am now certainly convinced that their full-body-grabbing abrasive tunes, even with the new direction the band is taking now, move people to an extreme level, rarely seen elsewhere. When they stopped (and I don’t think they played all the songs written on their setlist, may be for security reasons?) it was like getting out of the hole you were hiding in during an earthquake, or some brain-shaking event that has transformed you.

Open Head
Living Hell
Pressure’s On (Red C cover)
5 to 10 (Vile cover)
World Blue
My Hands are made of spite
Repeating the circle
The Doldrums (friendly City)
Throwing Bricks
I want to put this to an End
Terminal Addiction

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