Wednesday, June 14, 2017

King Crimson: Seattle 6/13/17

I saw King Crimson at the Paramount Theater in June 1995, and I’ve always regarded it as the best live performance I’ve ever seen. Now, I think it’s been superseded by their show at the Moore Theater, which I saw last night.

This would be the first time they went out as the “8-Headed Beast” with three drummers, and though I’d heard a couple of previous live releases with the 7-piece band, it would be no comparison to what they actually sounded like live.

They came on at 7:45, preceded by Robert Fripp’s announcement that everyone should put away their cellphone/cameras and just take it all in and enjoy the moment. Then the band came out to thunderous applause. Just as they were settling down to play, one guy off to left asked out loudly, “Can we take pictures now?”, which got a laugh.

Well! They went straight into “Neurotica”, followed by “Pictures Of A City”, and wended their way through things I never thought I would hear live, such as “Cirkus”, “Fracture”, “Dawn Song > Battle Of Glass Tears > Prince Rupert’s Lament”, and even “Islands”.

I was very impressed with everyone up there. I couldn’t see Fripp very well, due to being way up in the balcony (and thanks to a hanging PA-speaker stack), but I could see that he was playing a lot of keyboard when he wasn’t playing his guitar. Mel Collins was their secret weapon, and he shone just as well as his gold-colored saxophone. I was very impressed with new drummer Jeremy Stacey, who also doubled on keyboards when not playing drums, but when he was, he was definitely a powerhouse on them. Jakko Jakszyk was in fine voice throughout the whole show.

After a twenty-minute intermission, the three drummers did an instrumental piece on their own, and--launching into “Level Five”--preceded to tear the place up. I’ve never heard them play so loud and so hard, even surpassing the Double Trio lineup. After a while, it was pretty much a John Wetton tribute, playing “Easy Money”, “Exiles:”, “Red”, “Fallen Angels” and “Starless”. The latter was crowned at the end by bathing the band in deep, dark red light. What a nice touch!

After a short break, they came back on and did “Larks’ Two”, “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, David Bowie’s “Heroes”, and closed it with “Schizoid Man”. Wow! There was no light show, no dry-ice fog, no lasers, no props, no boring stories/announcements, and no rear-screen video images...just eight sharply-dressed gentlemen up there kicking ass for nearly three hours. That, to me, is how you get up there and do it.

Set One 1. Walk On: Islands coda pre-recording 2. Neurotica 3. Pictures of a City 4. Radical Action III (new) 5. Cirkus 6. The Battle of Glass Tears (full, from Dawn Song to Prince Rupert's Lament) 7. The Letters 8. Fracture 9. Islands

Set Two 1. Hell Hounds of Krim 2. Meltdown/Radical Action 2/Level Five 3. Easy Money 4. Exiles 5. Red 6. Fallen Angel 7. Starless

Set Three (encores) 1. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two 2. In the Court of the Crimson King 3. Heroes 4. 21st Century Schizoid Man/Gavin Solo/Drum Trio/Schizoid Man (Coda)

Friday, June 2, 2017

"The Fun Factory"

Down in the basement, there is an old cardboard box down in one section that has always been somewhat of a mystery ever since I found it down there. It's of an old GE stereo cassette deck that seems to be from the '70s, which included two microphones, but it does not look familiar to me at all, as I never saw a tape deck in the house in my very early years. Dad didn't even get a cassette deck until 1980 or so.

But it reminds me of an evening sometime in my kindergarten year when grandma came to the house with yet another item she'd found down in the basement, and handed over to Dad. It was a battery-operated tape recorder, with a cassette in it. One of those older-looking tapes with a white shell, and labels attached to either side.

After she was gone, Dad loaded the cassette into the tape deck on his stereo, and hit the "play" button. What was on this tape seemed to be some kind of collage of things that he had put together from various things in his album collection, strung together rather roughly, and perhaps after he'd had a few beers (and--perhaps!--a few bong hits), but it was obvious that he was definitely having fun making it.

I remember hearing the classic David Frye comedy routine about Nixon smoking grass in the Oval Office, which I had heard before and thought was funny, even though I didn't know who Nixon was then, but I at least appreciated the humor in it. Sometime after that was a few cuts from The Mothers' Fillmore East, June 1971 album, which I had never heard before. As soon as "Bwana Dik" ended, the voice of Dad came on, sort of like a deejay, saying something like "Hey! This is Fun Factory, ever wonder what it would sound like if a midget fell through the floor of an outhouse?".

Then the recording cut to a sound effect from Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, where a guy is crossing a bridge, which collapses, and you hear him yelling Yarrrggghhhh! as he falls down into water, far down below. Then, the tape switched to yet another sound effect from the same album; this time, it was of a dripping-water noise, but Dad had gotten onto the microphone and had added some grunting and groaning noises of his own, as if he were sitting on the toilet. Pure insanity. Also, somewhere on the same side of the tape, I remember hearing "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" from the Beatles' White Album, with Dad singing along to it. Oh, boy...again, pure insanity, but whenever he had recorded this tape, he definitely had that crazy sense of humor even before I came along!

The next day, after school, I had the tape-recorder up in the bedroom, and I was listening back to the cassette again, but about a third of the way through it, the tape snarled in between the capstan and pinch-roller, ruining the tape, and rendering it unplayable. The tape was, sadly, tossed in the trash. If only I'd had the knowledge to have repaired and saved the tape then, I would have done that, but...I didn't, and I can only wonder what the rest of the tape had on it. Dad would occasionally make weird tape collages such as that, but nowhere near as weird and wacky as "The Fun Factory".