A Cathedral of Hardcore: Ceremony at Echoplex
Ceremony has been a band that is ever-changing and in many cases prompts their fanbase to become very opinionated on their sound. Despite their evolution, and whatever people say they are or have become, the band has continually crafted a live set that is as raw and filled with emotion as it can get. After touring with Citizen and Turnstile, Ceremony harnessed the energy from that experience to power their “Vanity Spawned by Fear” tour. With support from Bay Area Hardcore Punk rising stars SPY and shoegaze bedroom pop laden Suzanne Kraft, Ceremony curated a perfect end to thee first leg of their tour.
The night kicked off with Suzanne Kraft swooning the crowd with a set filled with jangly guitars and drowned out vocals to ease into the night. The ability to set a smooth tone and give a calmness to the crowd before the impending chaos worked extremely well. As they continued their set you could see a juxtaposed crowd of people swaying and feeling every hook as well as the pit taking shape and carving itself for the rest of the night. Forming itself like a drawback before a tsunami, the open space became ominous and as the band exited the stage the cargo shorts began to trickle in and begin to make the rounds in the pit organizing it for an ensuing rush of violence.
As the geography of the crowd took shape, all it took was the sight of SPY on stage for the crowd to rush in. The tidal wave of savagery unleashed itself on many innocent bystanders sticking to the pit wall. The scene unfolding was something straight out of every hardcore fan’s dream, with the crowd skipping no beat to show their bloodlust and continuing to rage every single second of their set. With SPY playing tracks such as “Bootlicker”, “Exceptional American” and “Violent Majority” the fans all did their part to channel the energy the band was exuding. Seeing fists flying and surfing fans being carried by the sheer momentum of man-made waves of aggression was worth the crushed cans of beers that littered the floor like casualties of war. As their set came to end, many in the crowd looked like they’d gone to war and enjoyed the spoils of victory of the battle knowing there was still another round of madness to come.
With only a slight moment to breathe, Ceremony came out and put on a spectacle that will forever live on as an instant classic. Opening up with “Sick” the fuse in the crowd was not only lit but burst as soon as the chorus came through. With everyone chanting along and more carnage littering the pit, it set the tone for an insane set. With the fire in the crowd already scorching within all of our hearts, the band went ahead and doused the flames with gasoline and set us ablaze by playing “Open Head”. The amount of head turns I saw that turned into emphatic smiles before deploying into the aggressive chant as they heard the track play was as beautiful as it gets. As the night raged on the crowd got rowdier and felt like a well oiled machine reacting to everything the band did at the perfect cadence. Even when the band slowed down, playing newer stuff like “Vanity Spawned by Fear”, we were still treated to crowd surfers while a saxophone skronked on. As the night began to wind down, vocalist Ross Ferrar dedicated “Pressure’s On” to the police that made the crowd go feral, rushing the stage to make sure they got their dedications in as well. Before the band went into their encore, they thanked the fans for sticking with them and letting the band be themselves.
Despite the changes in style and tone in the recent records, Ceremony still stick true to their roots and put on a certified clinic of a show. At their core, they still have the pulse of the hardcore pariahs that they are, and this show just amplifies the magnitude of their impact on the scene. Etched in my brain, I can’t unsee the bodies climbing and tossing themselves from the stage support scaffoldings and into the crowd. Furthermore, the band embodies the spirit and the grit of the genre while guiding the torch into SPY’s hands to continue to breathe life into hardcore as it continues to shift and change and usher itself into a new era. With this being the cap to their first leg of the tour, Ceremony will continue to tour the east coast in November with another budding Hardcore Punk band, GEL, that is sure to be nothing short of a legendary pairing itself.
Words and Photos by: Alfredo Luna