The pairing of Titus Andronicus and Ceremony at the Irenic on Nov. 10 was a mercilessly passionate, sweat-soaked and heartfelt showcase of the direction of modern punk music. It wasn’t just the immense talent and energy both bands bring to the stage, but the heartfelt devotion from their boisterous fanbase that made their show so entertaining.
Ceremony is a band not to be observed from a distance. The heart and soul of their live experience lies at the epicentre of the hordes of fans that frenetically thrash against each other, shouting along to every word that frontman Ross Farrar has to deliver. Oftentimes fans joined the band onstage, much to security’s dismay.
Earlier this year, the Roehnart Park, Calif. band released its fourth full-length album, Zoo. The sound of the much acclaimed record diverted from their hardcore roots in favor of a more post-punk, Fugazi-esque direction, which confused some fans. Nonetheless, Ceremony’s live set proved that, regardless of their sound, they are adept at bridging the gap between their post-punk and hardcore sounds, and the result was a captivating adrenaline rush of fury and excitement. Despite the band’s recent increase in success, they are still rooted in their hardcore heart, extending the mic to fans and maintaining an accessible, DIY sensibility.
“Okay, by now I think we’ve established, everything is inherently useless,” Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles sang as he opened their set with the song “Ecce Homo”.
Not coincidentally, these words also open the band’s 2012 release Local Business, the triumphant follow up to 2010’s much buzzed, fantastic The Monitor. Titus Andronicus can be fully trusted to get the audience singing along in a riotous ruckus with their barrage of anthemic indie/punk tracks; the songs are always fully charged, always with overflowing sentiments.
The highlight of their set came toward the end as they threw back to 2010’s The Monitor, performing the processional tracks “A More Perfect Union” and “Titus Andronicus Forever.” The result was a feeling of empowerment and invincibility as the attendees all screamed “the enemy is everywhere.” TItus Andronicus proved that sometimes pessimism can be somehow innocently optimistic. "You will always be a loser, man. You'll always be a loser now, and that's okay."
There is something exceptionally alive about the angst associated with punk music -- the flowing emotional quality of the fervent energy emanating from the band onto the audience as if it were an airborne pathogen. Bruises and flying fists are welcome: it means you were there. It's innocent in a way that's hard to achieve in an age of anxiety and a whole lot of BS. Titus Andronicus and Ceremony aren’t just adept musicians who put on a hell of a show -- they are doing something important that preserves the integrity and the emotional quality of music, creating something that still belongs to us.
Thanks guys, thanks.