Ceremony - Rhythm Room - 6/4/2013
For indie-rock-loving dudes who required something harder-edged than the Generationals show at the Crescent on Tuesday night, Stateside brought four -- two local, two touring -- hardcore heavyweight bands to Phoenix's premier juke joint, The Rhythm Room.
Veteran locals Move Forward kicked off the proceedings, with frontman Brent Duncan saying they'd rocked so hard during their first rave-up that the stage had actually moved. Their set consisted of fairly straight-ahead four-chord hardcore punk, with occasional lead guitar flourishes. It was enough to rouse the mostly still, heavily male crowd into a loose, messy mosh pit for their last few songs.
Next, hometown hardcore heroes Gay Kiss brought their fierce, brooding sound to the stage.
Frontman Roger Calamaio, sporting a Star Wars Rebel Alliance tattoo, did his best Henry Rollins, prowling the stage and tossing the mic to the few diehards who shouted along with every lyric. Gay Kiss' songs were brief, as was their set, which lasted a mere 20 minutes.
Move Forward Gay Kiss
But it was long enough to leave an impression. Guitarist Mitch James was the band's highlight -- at least for those punk dudes not wholly focused on moshing -- peppering his straight-ahead punk riffs with tasteful bursts of feedback and other effects wizardry.
Australians Total Control might've momentarily fooled concertgoers into thinking they'd get a reprieve from the fast, loud punk-loyalist licks of the first two acts. But after a relatively calm first three songs, they lurched into a staccato shouter, sparking the most intense moshing of the night thus far. They also introduced a novel instrument -- for a relatively purist punk show -- into the evening's mix, a keyboard.
It fit their Joy Division/New Order and Tuxedomoon-esque post-punk vibe. This was also the first time in the night one could appreciate the Rhythm Room's impeccable sound system and top-notch soundmen, with every tapped note ringing through loud and clear over the PA. Total Control weren't just loud post-punkers, though, fleshing out their last song, a simple bass groove, into a five-minute long jammy epic (by punk standards, anyway.)
"Do you know much about Ceremony?" I was asked by a no-nonsense hardcore fan next to me after the band's second song.
"Is this the same Ceremony as the old hardcore band?"