One of my best friends recently had one of the worst days of her life when she had to put down her beloved dog. I honestly can’t even begin to imagine the amount of pain and sadness she feels and I honestly felt just helpless. As I heard the news from her, I offered to drop everything just to help distract her from everything but, deep down, I really didn’t want to miss American Nightmare and Ceremony on Saturday night. Lucky for me, my friends know me better than I know myself and instead of me missing what may be the show of the year, she offered to come with. I preach that concerts can be the best form of therapy and help you through some of the hardest times of your life and I was about to put that to the test with my friend.
California based Ceremony kicked the night off and I was instantly in love with everything about this show. The conversations throughout the modest audience instantly seized as the band took the stage and blasted into their opening set. I was instantly captivated by everything going on on the stage from vocalist Ross Farrar’s quirky mannerisms to guitarist Anthony Anzaldo’s bright white shoes and the way they seemed to be dancing on air with every beat. Although the audience seemed a little subdued with the way everyone was just kind of standing around, it made sense to me. There was so much happening both on stage and through the speakers that it was hard to do anything more than just stand there and take it all in. Ceremony’s sound is all over the place from fast to slow and from hardcore to an almost post-punk vibe all the while having this strage 80’s electronic sound behind it all. Being able to witness this sound live and just a few feet from the stage had me speechless and at a stand still. I didn’t want to miss a single movement or note but don’t take that as a lack of energy from the stage or audience. There was plenty of energy it was just an absolutely treat to witness such genius just a few feet away from me.
Ceremony’s set was too short for my liking and they left me wanting so much more as they left the stage but as soon as the stage started to be cleared for the headliner, that disappointment turned to anticipation. My friend made the comment of how empty the stage looked and I couldn’t help but get the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I saw what she was talking about. The front of the stage was almost completely clear other than a few monitors. All amps and the drum kit were pushed to as far back against the wall as they could be giving my a glimpse of just how large the stage is at The Fine Line. I knew what was coming and I was more than excited. As American Nightmare took the stage and the house lights went down, my eyes went from watching the stage to the middle of the audience where a giant hole had formed in the middle of the floor and then, with just a single note, the entire venue exploded into a set that may be in the running for best set of the year.
Boston bred American Nightmare was active from 1998 to 2004 before breaking up. They left a huge mark in the hardcore scene with their distinctive blend of genres and notoriously rowdy live shows. They were one of those bands that I had just come to terms with the fact that I would never see them live. Sure, they had some reunion shows here and there but I was just never able to make it work with my schedule… until now. The band had a high bar to meet with for me. I expected a high energy show with flawless musicality all the while giving me that high that I seek out from concerts. Thankfully, they hit all of those marks and then some.
There’s an intensity to this band that is almost unexplicable. Sure, their music is heavy and a bit chaotic which would obviously lend to an intense show but there’s just something so genuine about their performance that I would never get sick of seeing this band live. You could feel that the words not only meant something to the clearly excited audience members that took turns running up to the stage just to scream a couple of words in vocalist Wesley Eisold’s face, but the words and notes clearly meant something to each of the members in this band. Although it was chaotic throughout the headlining set both on stage and in the audience, there was almost a zen like vibe that came over the entire venue and I just can’t put my finger on what it was or how to describe it. All I can think of is that the feeling I got as I watched American Nightmare play through those songs I never though I would witness live is the feeling of perfection. Pure perfection.
I’m sure last night didn’t make my friend forget that she would be going home today to one less dog still and I know last night wasn’t her typical cup of tea (I mean, let’s be honest, majority of the shows I enjoy are not really my friends’ cup of tea) but I know that I glanced at her a couple of times throughout the night and she had a smile on her face. Go to a show and relax. Go to a show and recover. Go to a show and breathe. Your music or not, just breathe it all in and let it bring the life back into you after a hard moment. I promise it works.