Happy New Year to all and welcome to the first installment of Kingston After Dark for 2016. If the swollen ranks of New Year’s Eve revelers in Uptown are an indicator, we’re going to have a thrilling time in the days and nights to come. Now let’s get cooking with some regional event coverage!
Perhaps their name evokes gore movies or the dark recesses of the imagination, but New York City’s critically acclaimed (yet decidedly still underground) So Hideous are no one trick pony. Yet the next-level break out they deserve has not yet greeted them, despite recent Prosthetic Records release Laurestine being one of the most lush and rewarding journeys of 2015. I’ve mentioned the band in this column before, but their blend of black metal, post-rock and an ever-expanding emphasis on chamber music sets them above much of the artsier, darker side of metal and rock. Bands ranging from Insect Ark to Kayo Dot to Agalloch have incorporated strings or ambitious concepts at times, but Brandon Cruz and his band of merry men did something really special with Laurestine that deserves every bit as much praise as your Deafheaven or even Red Sparowes/Explosions In The Sky types have been showered with.
“All that stuff is weird to us ’cause we’ve been doing this for so long, much longer than many other acts,” Cruz affably tells me, seemingly resigned. “But for whatever reason, be it we move too close to chamber music and don’t dabble in metal tropes, chugging, all blastbeats, etc., we are firmly planted in the underground. It’s only going to get worse for us the further we move away from metal.”
The band will bring their beautiful, intense and haunting sound to The Half Moon in nearby Hudson on Jan. 9 with doomy compatriots HUSH. and two other heavy hitters. It is a low-price $5 ticket and the event starts at 8 p.m. — a rarer-than-we’d-like chance to catch the Brooklyn project out of the confines of the Big Apple.
Cruz hopes to change that. Even in New York City, it gets routine to play too many hometown shows.
“We’re really looking forward to heading upstate and playing the newer material,” Brandon says. “So many shows are harbored in Brooklyn or Manhattan that performances in other parts of the same amazing state are often relegated to being afterthoughts, which is absurd. We hope to continue this live conversation with our fans outside of our immediate area on a more regular basis going forward.”
I ask Cruz about the flowery art on the Laurestine album cover and recent inspiration.
“The record was really about dying,” Brandon reflects. “Marriage and getting a ‘real’ day job got me really ruminating on all this nonsense and the Laurestine flowers in fairly tough, harsh conditions. It is considered the deathless flower. It sort of encapsulated all the ‘persevere’ against the inevitable cliché mantras I was thinking at the time and was the starting point for the imagery on the album.”
The facets of existence
It seems fitting in a winter this warm that we consider the cycles of life and enjoy the facets of each season, encounter or potential situation. Live music and socializing is an ideal way to do just that.
The last issue came out too late for me to mention the passing of either Lemmy or the much more graceful Natalie Cole (now THAT would be a duet!), but rest assured the physical departure of both of these titans did not go unnoticed. We should be thankful for the characters and unique individuals in our lives and nurture one another to become our most accomplished selves. That said, high-five to whoever made the Uptown Christmas reindeer sculptures hump on New Years Eve. That was hysterical.
I was critical of 2015 at times, for it tested many of us. Yet looking back I also, amidst many obstacles, managed to fall for someone, make several records which are now seeing the light of day, witness many friends to the same, continued to see Kingston’s renaissance grow and passed many other welcome milestones. Much like America’s wider problems today, the path to better times is often one of focus. If we stay angry, don’t discuss things or resort to lower natures in debate, we undercut what makes us great. I may not understand the inherent logical concept of a black Republican such as Ben Carson, for example. But everyone has their own experiences or a right to feel to be and often fail to be a compassionate conservative. Not to mention that the racism and lack of acceptance in this country negates the great achievements people of many backgrounds made in contributing to our nation’s fabric.
Let’s remember that just this past year we held the Occupy Peace rally, which deserved far more support than it got. We can pay lip service to discussions for Peace across party lines but when the time comes, who shows up?
In the coming weeks the Kingston Times and myself will continue to bring you a variety of events, people (and their smiling faces!), topics, venue profiles and much more. We are all enrichened by one another, so I extend a handshake to you all.