Ceremony

Ceremony are a punk band from Rohnert Park, California, just outside of San Francisco. Their three albums on the Deathwish and Bridge 9 labels are widely seen as the most compelling, unusual and progressive hardcore of the last five years.

For their Matador debut Zoo, produced by John Goodmanson (Blood Brothers, Sleater-Kinney, Girls, Weezer), the band have refined their jagged sound while continuing to pursue themes of exurban alienation and confinement.

Zoo explores punk and post-punk traditions: the rhythm section remains as tense and propulsive as ever, while guitarist Anthony Anzaldo moves with ease from ringing power chords to stealthy leads reminiscent of Gang of Four and The Cramps. Ross Farrar's future primitive vocals sometimes recall Pink Flag or Metal Box, ranging from a melodic howl to a muttered incantation. The result is gripping and indelible.

Luis Vasquez did not expect to stumble upon The Soft Moon again. He buried those feelings over a decade ago beneath the sands of the Mojave Desert — where, in younger days, he played in local punk bands, all while absorbing the propulsive Afro-Cuban songs that permeated family gatherings. Restless, Vasquez relocated to Los Angeles, traveled around South America, and eventually settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. But, like a reoccurring dream, the specters of that past life returned, compelling Vasquez to revisit what made him originally conjure The Soft Moon in that relentless desert climate. Through The Soft Moon, Vasquez consolidates his disparate musical talents for playing both analog equipment and live instruments. Frigid synth chords, foreboding bass-guitar riffs, and vintage drum machine hark back to the experimental sonic palette of early 80s post-punk. But, Vasquez invests that raw electronic sound with the frenetic pathos of Afro-Cuban music, fracturing the familiar in a strangely resonant way. Hypnotic songs weaving lonely, nearly apocalyptic tales, hinge greedily on demanding more out of life — on sucking the marrow out of the vast desert skies. Repetitive vocals chant in a haunting whisper over hazy atmospherics, spinning like whirling dervishes around a cold glimmer of redemption. The Soft Moon manages to inspire warm revelry in the midst of such a stark environment, allowing a merciless freedom to emerge from a landfill of discarded memories. Vasquez sees the effort as an “introspective ritual,” one that forges personal release and restoration. With each song he reconciles with the rubble from his past, unveiling a disjointed story of self-discovery. Yes, nostalgia colors every recess of The Soft Moon, from its inception to its aesthetic, but this sort of life-affirming nostalgia prefers hope to paralysis. It undertakes to revive innocent feelings dulled by the grind of adulthood. It longs to channel the driving indigenous rhythms clouded in the dance of Diaspora and assimilation. It reaches for something necessary and permanent in the throws of fleeting desire. And although Vasquez may not regain what he lost, he ends up creating utterly engaging and moving music in the process.

Total Control

Total Control’s debut LP, Henge Beat, was commended as one of the few records released in 2011 that evaded the ease of classification and competent tribute act status of most modern bands, and is the definitive statement from a band that have evolved continually from aggressive angular post-punk to minimal techno. It is live where the band are most consistent, exploiting their punk and hardcore backgrounds to present their songs in their most frantic, high energy incarnations.

$12.00 - $14.00

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Ceremony with The Soft Moon, Total Control

Thursday, June 6 · 7:00 PM at Echoplex