Words and Photos by: Rebecca DiGiglio
The Irenic is an interesting venue, previously a church situated in the middle of a residential neighborhood, slightly awkward inside with a little elevated step area in front of the 3 foot or so high stage. I’ve also seen Ceremony some 6 or 7 years ago at the legendary Philadelphia venue First Unitarian Church, so when I heard the show announcement of one of my favorites, I was excited to see them in yet another holy house.
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I got to the show just in time to see Sheer Mag (regrettably missed Bugg, as the show was quite early due to venue restrictions and, I’m told, ornery neighbors who like to file complaints). People seemed psyched on this band, with a crew ready to dance situated front and center. The Philadelphia-based band’s style of rock n’ roll with punk leanings was well received and a solid start to what was to ensue.
Once they took the stage, Ceremony started out with “Sick”; I was not prepared for them to open with this and immediately got knocked over. Shortly afterwards, I sought refuge on the side of the stage, perched like a gargoyle overseeing the chaos and vigilantly watching for stray legs and arms headed my way (of which there was a steady stream). As always, the band has a brilliant way of mixing material from all their albums (including one or two from the upcoming release, “In The Spirit World Now”), ebbing and flowing between power violence and punk and post-punk in a way that doesn’t seem unnatural at all. They even covered “In Cars”, to my great Gary-Numan loving delight. As guitarist Anthony Anzaldo strutted in fishnets and not much else, an enthusiastic fan catapulted off stage clad in “I Miss The Old Ceremony” tee. When all 45 seconds or so of “Kersed” was played, as is tradition, the stage was bombarded and vocalist Ross Farrar was consumed by these kids who stick to themselves. All in all, a transcendent ceremony– one of the only sermons that could get me to set foot in the lord’s house.