Club Dada received me in an ambience resembling an exclusive grown-up version of a grounded tree house. The brick and wooden walls padded the dark venue, snuggling their visitors into a simplistic, yet comforting bar. Ample space opened the opportunity for the crowd to dance to the wild music roaring out of the speakers.

I had missed Spirit of the Bear’s performance (but later compensated by obtaining one of their pine-fresh candles), and while I checked in, Trash Panda, in bandanas covering their foreheads, prepared the audience for their last song. Trash Panda played my nerves away as their electric grunge vibrated the whole venue. I found a place in the crowd to set up the lighting of my camera while banging my head to the rhythm. The set ended, leaving space for me to mingle with the opening bands and cruise Club Dada, as the venue crew began setting up for the main show.

In the week leading up to the concert, I attentively listened to Ceramic Animal’s latest album, Sweet Unknown. The album’s nostalgic lyrics made me expect a calm, sit-back-on-your-chair type of concert, but as soon as Ceramic Animal stepped foot on stage with matching fancy boots, cowboy hats sprinkled on some of the members, and confidence worn like a shirt, all my previous assumptions dissolved. 

Ceramic Animal began their set with exalted passion, touching their instruments with determined delicacy. I was instantaneously hooked and swore to listen to their entire discography. Chris Regan’s voice was jalapeño honey, sweet and rough, and paired exceptionally well with Ant Marchione’s dark sunglasses and penetrating concentration on his guitar. Elliot Regan earned an A+ on chemistry with his keys, as his wavy hair swung with every chord. Erik Regan’s starry shirt (and drums) made him the shining star providing sound foundation. Dallas Hosey humbly perfected every finger pluck to his bass.

Every member had poised smiles and stood on the stage as if it had been made especially for them. Chris greeted the crowd like an old friend. The audience returned the favor, and cheered, anticipating more sweet, psychedelic, post-punk that only the five-member ensemble could provide. 

Throughout the set, Ant’s sunglasses came off, revealing the possibility of divine guidance as he looked up to the ceiling while seamlessly grazing his guitar. I was pleased to hear Elliot’s and Dallas’ voices join in, adding more flavor to the mix, and Erik’s stamina kept the night going. Ant and Chris elegantly cavorted with their guitars, hypnotizing the crowd into joining them. Around me, people danced with abandon, and I succumbed to sway with them. 

Almost unexpectedly, Chris warned us the best night of our lives was coming to a close, as the last three songs approached. Chris’s jacket came off, some buttons were pushed on the floor monitors, and the musicians took a quick, revitalizing water break. 

The crowd could’ve fastened their seatbelts, if they had had any, but nothing would’ve prepared us for the crash-landing finale Ceramic Animal was about to give. “All My Loving” is a 10-minutes-song, but it certainly did not feel like it. Elliot’s voice devotedly kissed the mic. His hands danced around the air, and the feet of the three string musicians tapped the floor to an upbeat rhythm. Suddenly, Erik switched the tempo, Ant looked deeper at his guitar, Dallas gripped his bass, and Chris joined Elliot to husk the sultry bridge of “All My Loving.” The energy blew off the roof of Club Dada, as every member of Ceramic Animal exploded in symphony. The spectators became one with the band, joining with a frantic dance to the song’s electric punk instrumental interlude.

Breath grew heavy, heads flipped, knees bent, and sweat ran down the skin. The crowd had been unleashed, for Ceramic Animal granted us with life outside of the cage.