Kingston After Dark: The art of peace

Perfume Genius at BSP. (Photo: missmagpi)

Perfume Genius at BSP. (Photo: missmagpi)

Since my dad died in January I’ve been finding calm in reading his pocket copy of The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba. One entry that sticks out:

“The art of peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting human beings out of their stupor.”

Which brings us to Perfume Genius.

“Politicians” like Jeb Bush mouth-defecate from corporate-backed pulpits that discrimination is a right and tout the hideous sense of entitlement and fearful prejudice hidden behind the words of the Indiana Religious Freedom Law. It’s a gutless reaction to the inevitability of gay marriage equality that has nothing to do with piety vs. perversity but lacks all grace or tolerance and compassion. It is essentially arguing that a Klansmen has as big a right to be president as Obama (the secret Muslim terrorist who wants to give us health care).


“In an alternate ribbon of time my dances were sacred and my lisp was evidence that I spoke for both spirits,” sings Mike Hadrias on Perfume Genius’ “Don’t Let Them In.” As a bi-identifying creative human soul myself, I can relate to the bold beauty in that sentiment, though I have never been lispy or wispy (even though everyone says I’ve always held cigarettes or other smokable items in a really effeminate way). It goes beyond outmoded ideas of vulnerability and pride (which still are sure to underlie any growing understanding of the issues at hand). Seeing Hadrias assume his stage name, red lips, fingernails and even piano matching at BSP in a sold-out landmark event for the venue, was an embodiment of simply being.

To see or listen to the often too-short and bittersweet songs of Perfume Genius is an exercise in restraint versus payoff, like most good foreplay. Poise and restraint. then on the cusp of tension releasing. Then the fire is rushing up the chimney explosively and the entire song evaporates. It’s not that it was smothered, but there is a starling exclamation mark placed upon the sudden absence of the confessional spaces the tunes give you a voyeur’s window inside. It’s no wonder Hadrias seemed offended and cut the set short near the end of the set due to some loud chatter from behind the stage.

Still, all regretful matters aside, this was a heavenly night. It was great to look around the sardine-packed BSP room and see a mix of many types of people basking in their own experience as the music filled the room. Hadrias joked from the stage to the people in the back of the room that it might look like he was wearing pants from where they were standing but he wasn’t. Indeed, the set was split between serpentine Axl Rose hip micro-hip thrusts, microphone in hand or behind piano, pulling in the sacred space through delicate stokes on the keys and an otherworldly voice. The brotherhood bond between the band on stage was striking. Like Antony, Elton John or Rufus (not to arbitrarily lump theatrical and operatic homosexuals together, but …) Hadrias can transcend gender or sexual bias through the power of song. Seriously, isn’t it funny that everyone at mass sporting events still probably likes Elton’s “The Bitch Is Back” or at least “Your Song” — the arguably most touching love song often played at hetero weddings anyone can ever think of that was written by an “abomination.” Hypocrites.

Dead Empires at The Anchor

Friday, April 10, The Anchor will host Dead Empires, one of the more buzzed about noise metal bands in the underground hardcore and metal scene. I looked at five seconds of a live clip of them on Instagram recently and my partner chimed in “that was WAY too much for me right now!”

The complete steal $5 show is also featuring progressive hardcore band Tiger Flowers, sure to make sweat fly, as well as working-class metalcore band for the modern age Clover. It’s a particularly stacked bill that suits fans of meaningful aggression and focused musicianship somehow married to punk rock chaos. Check The Anchor on Facebook for more details.

Gospel of the Witches' Karyn Crisis. (Photo: missmagpi)

Gospel of the Witches’ Karyn Crisis. (Photo: missmagpi)

Spring is really underway, though it remains to be seen how KHS baseball will be this year. I have faith in ’em. You’ve got to love the anticipation of what the season will bring. It’s been interesting to see snow powder the grounds some mornings and cool the air off so that when the midday is 52 degrees it has been absolutely beautiful with crisp, refreshing air and the tweet of birds. Nice rejuvenating feeling after a night spent rocking. There was a last beautiful trace of mysterious snow when Karyn Crisis and Gospel of the Witches (featuring members of death metal legends Immolation) played an empowered set of mind-blowing “occult” metal to a transfixed Albany crowd at Trickshots last weekend. (Must be the season of the witch, after all. It’ll be Beltane before we know it!) It was the former Crisis singer and self-professed psychic medium’s return to these parts after a decade on the West Coast and Italy. One of the most pioneering women in metal history, Karyn was  being super cool to old school fans and returning to the Albany/Troy upstate stomping grounds where her ‘90s New York City band changed metal and hardcore history forever alongside bands like One King Down and Candiria at countless QE2 shows. Holding a crescent moon above Karyn’s new album Salem’s Wounds is as femme centric as any rad episode of American Horror Story: Coven and less sensationalized. Her head and chanting for Gaia that “Mother, I can feel your sacrifice,” it was yet another potent reminder we don’t have time for GOP bullshit outmoded views anymore.

As we enter into 2015 and ramp up for the election of a new president, let’s believe in the rainbow connection and throw up some horns. And not just because this area is the Woodstock region, so “peace” and “acceptance” is fashionable, but because it is 2015 and it’s well past time. Stop the persecution and hate.

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