Ceremony bring imperfect intensity to Singapore – gig report

Ceremony bring imperfect intensity to Singapore – gig report

Embarking on their first tour of Asia following the release of their fifth album EAST COAST, Ceremony (the ones from Virginia, not California) ended their 11-stop tour here in Singapore.

Put on by independent music purveyors Other Sounds and Middle Class Cigars, the night’s lineup consisted of local indie darlings Cosmic Child and veteran shoegazers Stellarium (pictured above with Ceremony), two bands sure to prepare our ears for the noise we were anticipating from Ceremony’s set.

Originally scheduled to be in Geylang’s SLED Productions x Decline, the gig was moved to the smaller LITHE HOUSE on Madras Street following slow ticket sales. One of Singapore’s longest-running independent music spots, LITHE HOUSE’s intimate space elevated the night’s proceedings, bringing the crowd and the bands together, up close and personal, sweat and all.

The night began with Cosmic Child, whose performance seems to improve each time we see them take to the stage. With the 5-piece band taking up almost half of the space in LITHE HOUSE, our excitement intensified as we realised that tonight’s gig would seem more like a live studio session.

Ill-prepared for just how loud it would be, one expects to get used to the sound after some time. We were gleefully proven wrong by the time Stellarium was up, though, as their crashing drum beats and shredding seemed to echo longer; each note on the guitar and every step on the pedal continuing to reverberate through us even after the band was done.

By the time Ceremony were up, the venue was filled to the brim, and band and gig-goers alike were told to move as close as we could get to the back of the room to make the most of the limited space.

This aspect may have felt like a downgrade from the Ceremony’s bigger shows in China, but as bass player Stephen Sullivan said as the band was setting up, “Every [gig] is important.”

It’s an ethos one would hope all artists and bands take with them for each performance, but it was heartening nevertheless to hear it come from the act themselves, and only made us more excited for the ear-splitting music we knew we would be hearing soon.

On that front, Ceremony delivered: from the second they started to the moment they ended, their droning bass lines, impassioned drum beats, intense feedback, and shreds had us internalising the reverb to the point that we felt woozy from the sound.

It was a feeling that brought both joy and discomfort, but it was exactly what we’d hoped for. What’s more, the closeness of the band and the crowd brought not only intimacy, but reminded us of the true nature of noise rock with each note, head bang, and sweat droplet palpably felt by all.

Having such an unrestricted view to the band also showed us that performing live can be messy (sound can be unreliable, bass straps can get detached, tuning pegs can fall off), but such incidents simply added to their performance as it reminded us what this kind of music is all about: imperfect, intense, and above all, genuine.

Special thanks to Middle Class Cigars for the invite.