Local hardcore-punk band Raw Nerve has always lived fast and will now die. They'll be crushing a set of feedback-infused loudness for the last time tonight—or rather for the last time at a licensed venue (they're playing a DIY space tomorrow, and you can use your supersleuth Internet skills to find info for that). Raw Nerve have amassed a catalog of small-run, quickly out-of-print releases (cassettes and colored vinyl very much included), many of them on the Youth Attack! label run by Mark McCoy (Das Oath, Charles Bronson, Holy Molar), and their music clearly descends from McCoy's incredible lineage of bands. This shit is going to be bonkers nuts, guaranteed.
My intro to the Bay Area's Ceremony was via their 2008 sophomore full-length, Still Nothing Moves You, whose thrash-driven hardcore punk rippers are so boiled-down and intense that when a song crosses the two-minute mark it seems almost indulgent. Back in those days vocalist Ross Farrar borrowed a bit from Youth of Today-era Ray Cappo (in a good way, if you can imagine) and tore through the band's punk blastbeats with his venomous snarls—Ceremony left pools of sweat and spit on DIY-space "stages" across the country. Next came 2010's Rohnert Park, where they ditched the circle-pit rhythms and headed the way of Black Flag and the like, getting slower and grosser—comparisons to Pissed Jeans have been and will be made, but honestly Ceremony can't touch the grimy sound and sneering attitude of that Allentown quartet. The new Zoo, Farrar and company's first album since leaving venerable hardcore label Bridge 9 for Matador, furthers what Rohnert Park began—its foot-stomping, anthemic rock aesthetic likely won't work the kids into stage-diving and crowd-surfing frenzies like the old-school catalog, and that's OK, I guess. Its opening songs, "Hysteria" and "Citizen," are hooky, light-show-worthy jams with that lo-fi rock 'n' roll sound Spin keeps telling me about. I don't dislike Zoo, and I understand why the band might have wanted to be more accessible—I just miss old Ceremony's guts. —Kevin Warwick Raw Nerve headlines; Ceremony, the Ropes, and Divine Right open.