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Grand Moff Tarkin

Dragon Con, Atlanta, GA June 19, 1999

by Frank Mullen

photos by Frank Mullen

More Darth, less Garth!

   Dragon Con has got to be the largest collection of confused people this side of a transgender convention. Guys in chain mail and bifocals. Jedi knights carrying beepers and cell phones. Goths, punks, Star Trek geeks, gaming fans, comic book fanboys and collectors of all shapes sizes and converge in Atlanta for four days of indulgence of science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons , and other antisocial behavior.

   So what better band to play at the convention than Grand Moff Tarkin -- named after Peter Cushing's character in the original Star Wars movie, they're the finest bunch of punk-rock-playin', Imperial-Stormtrooper-uniform-wearin', Darth Vader singin' mofos in the known universe! After taking the Atlanta area by storm, these guys found a captive audience of open-minded sci-fi fans on whom to inflict their mixed bag of punk rock and Empire fanaticism.

   They've spent a fortune on letter-perfect costumes -- Darth Vader, droids, guards, and troopers of assorted varieties. They play punk-tinged metal about sexy 'droids mixed with covers like Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" and the Misfits' "We Are 138." To top it all off, add a couple of blue-skinned alien go-go dancers, and a provocative near-striptease by Princess Leia herself. Well, your Royal Highness!

   Joke band, or not -- these guys are smart. They're playing with the toys they love, and if the success of the latest Star Wars flick is any indication, they'll be able to ride this one out well into the 21st Century. Their music kicks ass, and it's worth the price of admission alone just to hear Darth banter with the crowd in a voice closer to Tupelo, Mississippi than the Death Star.

   The evening was marred by a sucky sound system, better suited to the Eyes Wide Shut trailer that played before them, but the message was in the performance, not the music. The goth kids were smiling, the Star Wars geeks were rocking, and it looked like Darth Vader was going to score with the Princess. May the Force be with you, motherfuckers!