Song Of The Day 10/21/2016: King Crimson – “Starless”

Extra Long – Did I ever tell you about the time I got in Robert Fripp's way? I was in college in San Francisco, taking a class at S.F. State called History Of Avant-Garde or something like that. It was tailored towards young adults who had one or two friends in high school who intrigued them with their taste for obscure arts, and who therefore felt a semester of exposure to art their friends never got into would give them a leg up at a pre-Christmas party back home. It was in this class I was first introduced to Survival Research Laboratories and The Church of the Sub-Genius. (Even though I could have very well gone to one of the Church's performances since I was, you know, in freaking San Francisco at the time, but I punted that.)

Anyway, there was a performance attendance component in this class, and we were given a list of local shows we could count towards credit. One of them was Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists, who were playing at Boz Scaggs' club Slim's south of Market Street. (Scaggs still owns Slim's after almost 30 years. Suck it, new tech!) The League of Crafty Guitarists is a small army of acoustic guitarists, rooted in Fripp's own brand of mysticism and discipline. The interplay between the musicians is subtle nearly to the point of inaudibility, but it works really beautifully. It's hard to explain it. You should find some of their stuff, but for the purposes of this story, just take with you that there are around 20 acoustic guitarists filling up the stage of arguably the greatest nightclub in San Francisco.

The League plays a pretty hypnotizing set. I'd guess it goes about 70 minutes. Neither the League nor Fripp did much in the way of addressing the audience, so we're kind of expecting them to float out much the same way they floated in without much notice. I'm standing near the middle of the club a few feet away from the bar. The show ends and the League gets up, but instead of going backstage, Fripp leads the League, single-file, into the audience. I'm thinking this is going to be some sort of audience-participation scenario for which I'll get extra credit.

So Fripp leads the League through the audience, and everyone clears away to give them a path. But the area where I'm standing is kind of bunched up with people, so there's a guy right behind me that I don't want to step on. I can't really move. And who's coming straight at me but progressive rock guitar hero Robert Fripp and twenty of his disciples.

Finally he gets to my spot. I think he sees that I can't move back any. He doesn't look at me, he kind of looks past my shoulder. The League stops behind him. Fripp simply cocks his head to the right, and very discreetly -- it's incredible how very modest this move is -- raises up his forearm and gently points to the right. He doesn't stick his whole arm out like a traffic cop. It's a very furtive finger-point. Like magic, a pathway clears in circumference to his finger, and he gently leads the League to a table in the back of the club. In his only address to the crowd of the evening he says the League is closing with a special performance to a person named Linda, except he rather gleefully refers to her as "LEEEEN-da!"

Nice moment. Anyway, before all this he was in a band named King Crimson and they were quite good.

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