Live: Ceremony – XOYO

By Tom Aylott


“Is this how you hold it?” – STAB

Tonight marks the return of CEREMONY to London. Matador have just released their new album ‘Zoo’, which has divided their audience pretty much down the middle, and the choice of supports tonight reflects that eclectic divide.

First up, are STAB. Not that every band that plays punk rock this hard and happens to have a female in can name F-MINUS as one of their principle soundalikes (and here it’s all male vocals for the record), but STAB definitely can. Bruising punk complete with barked lyrics and an utterly bonkers front man never really loses it’s charm, and it’s always great entertainment to watch a man slowly and maniacally tear apart a garment (but if that’s a “thing”, their clothing budget must be horrendous). A recycled approach perhaps and most certainly a jarring listen – but that’s definitely the point, and it’s hard not to enjoy the set.

Next, SAUNA YOUTH arrive, entirely more clean cut. The outfit’s elements of punk do come through but the garage, surf and indie rock influence overpower them often, and they seem a little out of place – especially when the high female vocal joins in. That’s not to say that they’re bad at all, as the musicianship and energy is great, but with the main vocal kicking out of the drumkit, they come off a little lifeless when compared to the hyperactive man tornado fronting the band before them. Their style jumps around a little mercilessly, but they’re well worth checking out for those who enjoy LOS CAMPESINOS! or a little garage and surf rock with their punk.

Finally, the nodding crowd turns into a pack of dogs for the beginning of CEREMONY. The room energy increases ten fold within the first 30 seconds of the band’s set, and before the second song is done, half of the very modest barrier at the front is lifted skyward and most of the front row have either shat themselves or ended up dancing on the stage (see: right). The entire set is peppered with microphone failures and thefts, but after so many shows of perfect musicianship and calculated delivery it’s enthralling to watch a band incite such brainless, anarchic joy.

Of course, this didn’t really help CEREMONY sound as good as they probably could – with the microphone casualties causing severe gaps in the vocal of some songs and so much of the crowd on the stage or flying into the band throughout, coupled with the fact that Ross Farrer’s busy joining in or suspending the microphone from the ceiling, the certain tipping point of it just being chaos almost hit a few times. That said, there’s no doubt that this kind of raw energy is what going to shows is about at the core, and with a band that’s been at it as long as CEREMONY, you have to give respect. They do more than a few things that the new breed wouldn’t get away with for a second, but the phrase “fuck it” comes to mind on such occasions.

“I wrote Pulp Fiction, you motherfuckers” – CEREMONY

If you’d like to see more photos of CEREMONY making a total mess of XOYO, head to