King Crimson at the Chicago Theatre, June 28th

Game time cajoling found me committing to see King Crimson at the Chicago Theatre last night. I had previously seen this lineup when they played a three night stand at The Vic Theatre in 2014. (Had it really been that long ago?) The Chicago Theatre is quite a venue, but the math is easy - it holds three times as many people as The Vic. Prerequisite meetups behind me, the band took to the stage prompt as ever. Over the next three hours, King Crimson dug deep, pulling what seemed like a majority of the first set from Lizard and Islands, two albums mostly forgotten in their live repertoire since release, as well as offering the title tracks from Larks' Tongues In Aspic. This was business however; the band - now graced by eight members - are the epitome of the musician, each an expert at their respective craft, and together, the finest example of rock ensemble. New guy Jeremy Stacey provided keyboards as well as drums, while Bill Rieflin here added lesser keyboards and "fairy dust." After a brief intermission, they returned for more work, the second set highlighted by The Construkction of Light and Level Five from the 90s version of the band, along with a very adapted reading of Indiscipline, with MVP Jakko Jakszyk providing a most original (and decidedly non-Belew) vocal. After 20 some songs, Starless proved the finale, a track that I have always thought encompasses the essence of King Crimson and its many eras. I made the comment that this was the "ultimate white people music" on social media and I say that - audience aside - unapologetically: while rock and jazz music are at their very core ethnic - and here the poly-rhythmic nature of the trio of drummers - Robert Fripp and company's sheer diversity of so-called progressive rock is indeed 21st century classical music. King Crimson in their "double quartet" formation are a wonder to behold, and events such as the Radical Action Tour are not to be missed, lest they ever pass this way again.

"Tonight’s show at the Chicago Theater was one of our best" -- Tony Levin