Ceremony at Chain Reaction, Mar. 9, 2012

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Ceremony (with Joyce Manor, Rank/Xerox, Skin Like Iron, and Cold World)
Chain Reaction
March 9, 2012

Unlike venues like The Glass House where crowd surfers take an Icarus-like flight to the guards in front of the stage, the surfers at Chain Reaction in Anaheim get up and dance or even take over the mic before doing a front flip dive back into the crowd. The tiny venue has a  sign stating (sarcastically), "No Crowd Surfing. No Crowd Moshing." Uh, sure.  Last night's line-up included Joyce Manor, Rank/Xerox, Skin Like Iron, Cold World, and finally the headliner, Ceremony, who just released the new album, Zoo, last week.

I had never seen Joyce Manor, but I heard that this is one of the bigger venues they've played. I've been listening to them more than normal over the last few weeks, but nothing compares to seeing them live. They opened with "Constant Headache," one of my personal favorites, and apparently a favorite of the crowd as well. So much energy was built up that by the end of the song there were literally dozens of people filtering onto the stage, singing into the mic, and stage diving back into the crowd. There was a lot of talk about how they should have co-headlined. I have to admit, I kind of feel bad for Rank/Xerox. Not only did they have to follow Joyce Manor, but they just didn't seem like they could hold a crowd. Half of us were in the alley smoking the whole time, and being inside was depressingly calm. I asked a girl what she thought afterwards, and she just shook her head and said, "I don't know why they even played."

Skin Like Iron sounds like the name of a metal band, and their music sounded like hardcore metal, but they identify as San Francisco hardcore punk. What's that about? Better question: Who cares? They were fun. Alex Capasso's vocals were nothing but high, gravelly white noise that occasionally came through the overpowering riffs. They got the moshers who were disappointed by Rank/Xerox to start thrashing around and running in circles again. They're loud, discordant, heavy, and even sludgy. "Cold World" brought back that hardcore punk feel. Dan's stage presence exploded with swag. Unfortunately they spent more time stalling than playing. Technical issues aside, it was awesome. People yelled lyrics and climbed on each other like crabs to get to the stage.

A plaid-covered Ross Farrer came onto the stage and just screamed. A second later at least a hundred people were screaming, not at anyone, not saying anything, just... screaming. It didn't stop until the rest of Ceremony came on one by one. Guitarist Anthony Anzaldo's cheeks were painted and kind of made him look like he had mutton chops, but nobody can ever really call him on style. They opened with "Hysteria," the first track off Zoo, their album that came out last week. The pushing started immediately. One minute the room was full, the next minute everyone compacted into a throbbing blob that took up less than half of the space. Feet were stepped on, glasses and hats fell off, people were intentionally and unintentionally hit in the face.

As promised, most of the set was from their previous albums instead of Zoo, and kids were singing every lyric they could get out through the panting and yelling. There came a point where things were completely out of control. Mosh pits formed and disbanded at random. The crowd surfers had a particularly hard time, getting dropped unceremoniously (ha!) into peoples' heads and onto the floor - most hands were too busy covering faces or trapped between other bodies. A few people left occasionally, but only long enough to catch their breath. Three songs in I was covered in sweat... and I'm not sure how much of it was mine.

Critic's Bias: I'm human.
The Crowd: Hardcore kids and 20-somethings with sick tattoos.
Overheard: "Did you see that guy who ate shit with his face on that wall?" "Hey! She's the one who vomited!" "
Random Notebook Dump: Wear steel-toed boots next time. Ouchy feet.


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