Kingston After Dark: September serenade

Yo La Tengo. They still got it.

 “ … I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain.”
— Victor Frankenstein,
in Mary Shelley’s classic novel

Good tidings to you, fair reader. I am writing this week’s edition of Kingston After Dark on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s birthday, surely as good a day (and better than many) to ponder impermanence. I used to endeavor to write long-form novels or non-fiction and whatnot, but is it ever possible to truly capture all the subtleties of a moment or impart the depths of a summer’s conversation as it slips from a personal engagement level of biofeedback to be caught up on the wind, only to vanish into the flow of time?

I think the best we can do is love with all our might those around us to the best of our ability and try and be as present as possible in any given stretch of gifted time. That is partly why I prefer to write about the immediacy of current events or entertainment these days, though I would never disparage the greats who seek to immortalize a time period (or re-animate a literary corpse) to greater depth. If you can still find the time these days, God bless you!

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The great poet Billie Joe Armstrong once asked to be woken when September ends, but he would certainly be missing out if his wishes were granted in the Kingston of 2018. You will want to be awake for all of this September, dude. From the Midtown arts scene to vibrant musical acts of all stripes like Algiers, Jill Sobule, Hed Pe, Doomstress and many more hitting our area this month, it’s gonna be a party as we celebrate the onset of fall’s contemplation by raging against the dying of the light. Don’t get me wrong, winter has a place in the grand cycle of things as well but let’s not rush into abandoning our warm-weather attitudes and principles (or lack thereof) just yet. Get out there and have some fun.

Obviously the first and foremost thing on your mind this month ought to be procuring Yo La Tengo tickets for the veteran indie band’s sure to be at the very least semi-legendary — and quite possibly epoch-shatteringly epic — BSP Kingston appearance on Sept. 12 in the back room. From Amanda Palmer to Yeasayer, any back room show I have ever seen there has been as massively grin-inducing as a half-sheet of Owsley’s best, so to see the critically lauded Hoboken (yes, I just wrote that) act support their new Matador release There’s a Riot Going On. While it does not contain any Sly Stone covers, the record is a fine addition to the band’s legacy of quirky and considered audio existentialism.

If you want to keep your dancing feet moving, be sure to also mark ahead on your calendars for Sept. 22 when Jonathan Toubin brings his celebrated Soul Clap and Dance Off party to Colony Woodstock with light rockers with a few too many buttons open on their shirts Sensuous Tiger in tow. Just kidding, ST is actually just Andy Animal and Andy Shernoff being awesome. The panel of dance judges includes a celebrity panel of judges including Michael Clip Payne (Parliament Funkadelic), Galaexius Quasar (Spliffs), Bruce Milner (Every Mother’s Son), Oakley Munson (The Black Lips) and Peggy Fusco (Gardening Angels/Acacia’s mom)!

Alice in Chains and the quest for authentic

September is the birth month of my sister Cambria. She’s a much more organized Virgo to my semi-spastic Aries personality which, like an excitable flame, can often be made to dance around by a sudden gust. It is intense to be at an age where I am seeing her kids head back to elementary school (I have none of my own) and to wonder where a lot of time has gone. It is also interesting to find myself growing less interested in chasing some preconception of success and more interested again, in a healthy way, with cultivating authentic moments. What does it mean to spend your whole life loving music? How have my tastes evolved? I have found myself laughing a bit while driving Sawkill’s winding turns past burbling water listening to one of the same grunge bands I loved as a teenager decades ago, Alice in Chains. The new record Rainier Fog really is relevant and slaps hard, though. It is inspiring in 2018 to hear a new rock album that is unabashedly confident in representing the hard rock genre, reminding us of the solid merits of good songwriting as catharsis over commercialism. The fact that Alice in Chains still exists at all is kind of a miracle considering how many fads have come and gone and how even the legendary Aerosmith were just on the VMAs looking ridiculous by collaborating with overrated sexist joke-of-the-moment Post Malone. (Editor’s note: It is the considered opinion of the editor that Alice in Chains is the both the zenith and the acme of grunge rock. Better than Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, whomever. AIC FTW.)

Until next week, take the time to see how the new you relates to the old you, what you need to shed and what you can hold on to. Rebirth can happen in ways that involve far less galvanism than what got Frankenstein’s science fair project up off the slab, but which can be galvanizing nonetheless. Sometimes it’s as simple as a meal with friends at an up-and-coming hot spot like Wilde Beest. Other times it can be sneaking off with friends to Colgate or Cooper Lake to take in the dog days of summer in all their glory. Other times it can be waiting for Yo La Tengo with anticipation, remembering that old friends can still show us new experiences.

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