Text and photos: Bobby Cochran
Today was a big day for a number of reasons. The first, of course, being the HOME SICK 2018 lineup of unbelievably good bands. The second being the fact that this was a sold out show in a big venue, and a chunk of the proceeds from ticket sales were being donated to helping those affected by the huge fires that swept through Sonoma and Mendocino Counties this past fall. The third reason was that this was a grand homecoming for punk legends Ceremony, who came of age just a hop skip and jump from Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater in nearby Rohnert Park. Event organizer and Ceremony guitarist Anthony Anzaldo pulled together a fantastic support crew that make it a day to remember, with 11 bands spanning multiple genres from all over the US. Oh, and the entire event ran ON TIME, which is almost unheard of with these types of DIY events.
San Francisco’s Super Unison kicked things off with an impressive batch of new songs and tracks from their debut Deathwish release, Auto. Despite it being 3:30 in the afternoon, there was already a sizeable crowd who were absolutely digging what this powerful post-hardcore three piece blasted unrelentingly in their direction.
Local boys Acrylics came out swinging, and launched into a whirlwind 15-minute set of full tilt punk rock, charging like a band with a face full of hot peppers and an urge to judo-slam anyone in arm’s reach. Fifteen minutes was all they needed to burn shit down.
Sacramento’s Screature are a favorite of some of us at CVLT Nation, and getting to see them twice in the last two months was a treat. Screature mine the bedrock of early Death Rock and twist it into a new form, avoiding the derivative traps so many retro-looking bands fall into. Midday or not, this band pulled down the black shroud and pulled us into the underworld for 20 brief but glorious minutes.
Taking it to a whole new level was Chicago’s post-industrial duo Hide, featuring the formidable presence of frontwoman Heather Gabel and gut-punch instrumentation of Seth Sher. Flashing white lights syncing perfectly with the hypnotic, crushing sounds and distorted, repetitive banshee wail vocals, this was a performance/exorcism of impressive proportions.
Southern California’s Fury came out swinging and the stagedivers followed suit, bringing the entire vibe up five or six notches. Old-school style hardcore with the piss and vinegar of angry youth, these dudes cracked skulls from first song to last. It seems one of the fringe benefits of abbreviated sets is that bands pack an hour’s worth of energy into 25 minutes, which is an awesome thing to experience.
San Francisco homeboys Culture Abuse were up next, and there’s no band that can bring a fucking punk rock party vibe like these dudes. The crowd bounced and shouted along with every song, bodies flew on and off the stage, and even a couple bouncing balloons survived a surprising amount of time above the heads of the chaotic masses. Recent signees to Epitaph Records, Culture Abuse are definitely making a lunge for the next level, which they richly deserve.
Things took a turn for the darker when Bay Area doomgaze masters King Woman turned down the lights and turned up the amps while singer Kristina Esfandiari cleared a circle on the floor and took center position. Unveiling two new songs that immediately signaled a significant progression while retaining the emotion and depth KW are known for, this band made it known they are a force to be reckoned with. Nowhere to go but up for this crew.
Brooklyn duo Black Marble’s post-punk beauty was an energetic swerve from the heaviness of King Woman. Threads of Joy Division and early 80’s era Cure woven through a contemporary lens of dream pop and synthwave, Black Marble provided a soundtrack to settle in and relax before the rest of the night launched into overdrive.
And speaking of big nights, tonight was Touche Amore’s 999th show, and vocalist Jeremy Bolm said there’s no place he’d rather be than right here, playing a venue with rich community history and a legacy of being the incubator and home base for so many punk kids in search of community. It’s obvious how long this band has been playing together, because they play less like a band and more like an organism with music in their blood. It seemed every single person in the crowd knew every word to every song, and the joy in their faces and the joy in the room was something to behold.
And covering the metal portion of the evening was Texas thrash metal titans Power Trip. Again, the diversity of the lineup was a perfect collection of multiple facets of the punk movement, showing they have more in common than not. Power Trip brought the punk-influenced thrash they’ve mastered and pushed to the next level. And have the live show to prove it. Even though singer Riley Gale said they hadn’t played a show in over a month and were feeling rusty, there was absolutely nothing rusty about their performance from an audience perspective.
Arriving right on time were headliners and grandaddys of the scene, Ceremony. Beginning quietly but veering quickly into a massive onstage dogpile with the opening lines of “Kersed”, Ceremony brought and felt the hometown love. There’s nothing quite like watching a band that’s traveled so many musical roads over so many years still put smiles on faces and play like there’s no tomorrow. They helped build the punk community in this area, showed up to lend a hand when the people needed it, and brought a bunch of their friends to help. An epic set by these guys, and a crowning moment to an unforgettable day.