This past Saturday night I was left with a difficult decision: do I go see The Bouncing Souls out in Asbury Park NJ or do I stick around Philly to catch one of my favorite hardcore bands around Ceremony at the First Unitarian Church? Since I already had tickets, and I didn’t really feel like driving I decided to keep it local and headed out to the sweaty basement (it also helps that even though they’re one of my favorite bands, I’ve seen the Bouncing Souls 30-40 something times now).
I got to the sold out church basement which has taken a summer hiatus for shows due to extreme heat except for the occasional hardcore show (because clearly we can handle it).
First up were Philly’s own Anxiety Hammer. Playing Philly hardcore through and through, I haven’t heard these guys before their set but I definitely need to check them out now. Minus some technical difficulties (they needed a new guitar after the first song) Anxiety Hammer had a sizeable pit going in the front throughout their entire set.
Next up were Philly’s Bad Side, which was one of the main reasons I came out to the show in the first place. Born out of the ashes of a bunch of other really good bands (Lighten Up, Cobra Lung, GA$H, etc) I haven’t seen them in over a year so was stoked to finally be able to catch them again (my fault too, they play local shows all the time.
Bad Side played a completely no frills hardcore set. With absolutely no time for stage banter and barely any time for even a break between songs, Bad Side ripped through a lightening set filled with slam dancing and stage dives. Definitely check out both their Looking for a Bad Time Demo and Everybody Wants Something From Me.
First and foremost, the Seattle two piece powerviolence Iron Lung were hilarious. In fact, with their stage banter they reminded me a lot of Dillinger Four if Dillinger Four listened to INFEST more often. Before starting they joked about how they were used to having a bassist in the band, and that if anyone slowed down the dancing they were going to stop playing (and then singled out one person and said if he stopped dancing they were done… to which they sometimes checked after songs where he was). They let a girl on stage to ask them a few questions, and just generally had one of the cheeriest sets I’ve ever seen a powerviolence band put on.
Oh, and they also had one of the biggest fucking reactions of the night. These guys played aggressive as shit music, and with being just a two piece were heavier than most hardcore bands with plenty of other members (and the drummer doing vocal duties). Definitely need to check out their recorded stuff (which they have plenty of since they’ve been a band since 1999).
Philly’s NOTHING were sort of the black sheep of the hardcore lineup (even though they feature members of hardcore band Horror Show). These guys played dark ambient sort of post hardcore music and had the longest set of the night. I wasn’t really feeling them live, but I went to listen to some of their recorded stuff and I dug as few of their heavier songs.
California’s Ceremony has changed a lot since I first saw them 5-6 years ago with Paint it Black. I’ve seen them about 6 times since then, and each show was a very different experience. Never really sure what to expect, California’s Ceremony took the stage and immediately had the crowd in a frenzy with “Sick”.
I wasn’t sure how much they were going to dip into their back catalog since they’ve changed directions from their powerviolence ways to a more Joy Division post-hardcore style with Zoo and the new song they played, but luckily they didn’t forget about their hardcore fans as Ross would shout “This one is for the hardcore kids” before blasting into an old one. Ceremony is always a good time, and always fun to lose my shit to.
Setlist (From what I remember and not in order)
Pressure’s On (Red C cover)
He-god-Has Favored Our Undertakings
Don’t Touch Me
This Is My War
I Want To Put This To An End
One more (I don’t remember which though… maybe The Pathos?)