Kingston After Dark: The Great Conjunction

Hero Jr.

Hero Jr.

Who among you remembers the Great Conjunction from Jim Henson’s quirky fantasy The Dark Crystal? The New Age-tinged ’80s classic climaxed — spoiler alert! — with the restoration of a shattered crystal, restored hopes and a balance between the forces of light and dark resulting in a crazy eclipse-type event that managed to evolve everyone into enlightened beings when the three suns of Thra shot a big-ass laser beam out of the sky. Sigh. This is not likely to happen to the world as we know it anytime soon, though if you read Gerald Celente’s excellent, Uptown Kingston-based Trends Journal you know that over 50 percent of the population in 2013 called for a “complete government overhaul.” Things come together or (as first Chinua Achebe and then The Roots told us) things fall apart. Can we stem the tide and find common ground as non-Muppet humans? I think the key is information sharing.

As witnessed by Mitt Romney’s crushing defeat in the last presidential election, information is everywhere but if you live in a bubble of just the information you want to hear you may be in for a rude awakening when reality’s pinprick pops your bubble. The other night at Stockade Tavern I had a great conversation with a microbiologist from out of town visiting Kingston for the Surfer Blood show. He told me and my friend Preston that he had gone into science to try and make a difference rather than be just another programmer. The merits of technological advancement aside, it was nice to meet someone who chose their life path based on altruistic goals for once. There is national rhetoric about populist themes like minimum-wage growth that probably will amount to not much. The Federal Reserve keeps playing tug of war with interest rates to make the economy seem less screwed up than it is. Arizona’s draconian attempt to allow discrimination against gays based on religious views of business owners is a mockery of American tolerance. I am starting my own religion of science loving, Kali/Hinduism-loving marijuana advocate, anti-racist skinhead bisexual Caucasin Rastas who listen to Mastodon/Crowbar and rail against the two-party system while trying to date bipolar lesbians. I will probably be the only member (and have been one for most of my life). Anyway, there is a lot to be morbidly depressed about. But there are also people fighting the good fight.

“Yesterday’s heresy is today’s truth,” says I am Heresy vocalist Nathan Gray. Best known as the respected frontman of political hardcore heroes Boysetsfire, Gray is an outspoken pavement-pounder of the highest order. Boysetsfire were one of the few bands, along with System of a Down, to be radically outspoken against George W. Bush’s appropriation of patriotism and the exploitation of post-9/11 grief and fears to further a far-right agenda and the Iraq War. Boysetsfire’s “Release The Dogs” song often saw the band facing angry people at venues who wanted to actually fight them during the early ’00s, a time when dissent was often met with anger. Now Gray’s new band I am Heresy have made an amazing record, Thy Will, (on Century Media Records) which tackles the timely problem of religion causing rifts instead of inspiring compassion. Thy Will is an awesome blend of seemingly incompatible hardcore, emo and black metal. It is years in the underground and respect for each genre that allows the members of I am Heresy to deliver the most exciting and socially relevant heavy release of the year so far. Go pick up a copy!


“I have a certain type of voice that seems to connect to people. People like it and I appreciate that I have that talent. I want to show people that being outspoken is important,” says Gray. “People want to speak out or realize that what they are being told is ridiculous or mythological, tribal superstition. But they are afraid to speak out. If you tour into places and take a bold stance, that can inspire and that’s how change gets started.”

I don’t know exactly what created the universe but I know science yields results and is certainly a part of the universe that can’t be ignored or molded to fit warped thinking about the Earth only being a few thousand years old.

“Right. We’re able to know what we’re able to know,” says Gray, laughing. “To make up shit just to make yourself feel comfortable is ludicrous.”

Hero Jr. at Snapper’s

On the local front, let’s look at some cool shows that keep the rock torch burning. Hero Jr. from Indianapolis will be making a stop at Snapper McGee’s on Friday, Feb. 28 with local stalwarts The Grape & The Grain and Jimmy James. The show at the noted North Front Street tavern starts at 11 p.m. with a standard Snapper’s $5 cover. Hero Jr. play about 200 shows a year and have opened for everyone from Tom Petty to The Offspring.

“We will be recording soon in our living room, all live, old school,” says guitarist/vocalist Ken Rose. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we can actually play and not fake it in the studio. Last time in Kingston we played Snapper’s with Lost In Society, from Jersey, who we sometimes tour with. This tour is dedicated to road-testing the songs we will be recording for our new record, to be released in May, and since that record will be recorded 100 percent live in the studio this leg of touring will be dedicated to refining the songs and testing the waters with them. Snappers is awesome because it’s a ‘real’ venue with an awesome clientele and [owner] Travis Myers is an A-1 rock dude!”

In other news, stop by The Anchor on March 1 to catch reunited ’80s rockers Talon alongside the debut of new hard-rock band Gozer and death/beer metallers Cirrhosis. It is sure to be a super rowdy night full of hair and headbanging. Show starts at 9:30 pm with a $5 cover.

Until next time, watch out for Skeksis and birthers.