100 Shows of 2010 - #38: Ceremony @ U Street Music Hall, 6/17/10

Though of course I could never ever be accused of rashness, it would appear, my dears, that I might have been a wee bit too hasty in proclaiming anyone the Best Band in Virginia before I had properly given due attention to Fredericksburg nouveau gazers Ceremony. In the span of just one live set, they totally turned my world upside down, inside out, and sideways, and in doing so might very well have snatched the Best Band in Virginia title for themselves. Those naughty boys.

MINI RECAP: Ceremony = Hallefuckinglujah! Overall score: A.

The dark, industrial hole of the U Street Music Hall was the perfect backdrop for the tandem of Paul Baker and John Fedowitz and their glorious creations. “Can you turn the lights down,” they asked, “we’re ready to go.” And ready to go they were. This pair make heavenly nouveau gaze music that’s about as good as you’re going to get these days, hands down. They’ve got the wall of noise and blissful distortion down to a science, and it’s fucking gorgeous. Their set made me question not only what year it was, but also where exactly this set was taking place. It could just as easily have been 1980s Scotland instead of DC, circa 2010. In addition to their blistering cacophany of scorching noise, they can also add just a touch of pop, as with the amazing “Stars Fall”, adding another dimension to an already layered sound.

Working with a drum machine and sharing vocal duties, Paul (guitar) and John (bass) worked their magic, weaving webs of fuzzy disorientation and shambolic wave upon wave of distortion. They effortlessly harness the sound of vintage My Bloody Valentine and early Jesus & Mary Chain, but leave some of the bite out for a kinder, gentler ‘gaze. The power and intensity is still very much present, however, as is the need for earplugs, and to quote my friend Laura, to whom I owe much love for introducing me to Ceremony’s music, they straight up “melted my face off.” Trite though it may sound, this band is so good that it hurts. I’m pretty sure that’s as close to a religious experience as I’ve had in quite some time. I do believe I just stumbled upon one of the best live bands within 100 miles, if not more. They were absolutely stunning.

To put it to you this way, the only other bands who come close to this level of amazingness with the nouveau gazing are Ringo Deathstarr and A Place To Bury Strangers (who, wouldn’t you know it, have ties to Ceremony). But in Virginia, at this moment, Ceremony stands alone. I was well and truly blown away by this band, and would recommend them about as highly as I’ve ever recommended anything before.

mp3: Marianne (Ceremony from Rocket Fire)


  1. They have been my favorite band for some time now. I first saw them at the Black Cat with A Place To Bury Strangers and Alcian Blue back in '06. Two years later they became my fav and still are. For awhile I listened to them all the time in my car. As a result to that I fried my rear tweeters. I recently saw them in Virginia Beach with Ringo Deathstarr last year. Cheers for the great post!

  2. Aaaaand cut to me banging my head against the wall for missing that show. I can only imagine how amazing it was. Make that I can only imagine how amazing both of those shows were. I miss Alcian Blue.


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