Formed in 2005 in Rohnert Park, Ceremony have become one of the most uncompromising and successful bands to come out of Sonoma County’s punk scene in the last two decades.
Currently signed to mega-indie label Matador Records and touring nationally, Ceremony come home when they headline the Home Sick Festival at the Phoenix Theater on Jan. 13. Bursting with eclectic rock, hardcore and indie acts from near and far, the festival is a fire-relief benefit conceived by guitarist Anthony Anzaldo as a chance for the band to share their passion for music with the community they still call home.
“Music was a really big part of my life, since the inception of my life,” says Anzaldo, whose father was a radio DJ before working for MCA Records. “I always gravitated toward people who were into music more than as a hobby but as a lifestyle.” Growing up in Rohnert Park, Anzaldo was introduced to the North Bay’s long-running punk scene through friendships with people like Scott Phillips (Life Long Tragedy) and Ross Farrar, who would become Ceremony’s vocalist.
“Once we found this subculture, that was the beginning of everything we do now,” says Anzaldo.
Over the years, Ceremony’s sound has gradually transitioned from a pummeling hardcore assault, which culminated in the band’s acclaimed 2010 album,
Rohnert Park, into a sparse, haunting proto-punk sound that was featured on their last album, 2015’s L-Shaped Man. All the while, the band’s stature grew incrementally with each release and each tour.
“We never really recognized a big break with us; it was more like a slow burn that’s happening even now,” says Anzaldo.
When Anzaldo began organizing the Home Sick Festival nearly a year ago, the idea was to celebrate punk’s de-segregated aesthetic with a variety of bands representing all aspects of underground music. “Everyone’s kind of into everything,” he says. “But the midlevel fests don’t represent that diversity.”
The bands on the bill for Home Sick include Texas group Power Trip offering intense thrash metal grooves, Los Angeles post-hardcore outfit Touché Amoré, Brooklyn’s Black Marble serving up a synth-heavy wave of melody, and San Francisco doom-metal band King Woman. Local acts like Acrylics also show off the best of today’s North Bay scene.
“It’s a really diverse show,” says Anzaldo. “I’m really proud to bring this level of music to the place that showed us the ropes.”