4 min read


A fannish interlude as King Crimson sweeps through the region… plus listings for choice events taking place this week.

Prelude (Song of the Gulls).

King Crimson at PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ, Sept. 4, 2021 (Photograph: Steve Smith)

Apologies for being tardy with this latest newsletter; as you might know, King Crimson is swinging through the region this week. I caught the band last Saturday at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ, and will see them again, presently.

It's an interesting tour, the first time the present-day King Crimson – a seven-member ensemble that plays material from throughout its storied 52-year history – has traveled with opening acts and concentrated chiefly on summer sheds. This has meant shorter shows than has been the group's custom since its start in 2014 – one long set instead of two – and no surprises thus far in the setlists, which seem tailored toward providing an appealing overview for newcomers and generalist. (To me, this indicates optimism, not pandering.)

The band played like a locomotive on Saturday; whatever the outing might have lacked in novelty it made up for in variety, vitality, and exhilarating command. If this is, as has been suggested, the final North American tour for the present King Crimson configuration, it's making for a fond farewell. (I suspect, however, that this is not the last time we'll ever see King Crimson live… tour is a key word here, with other approaches to concertizing, like longer runs in fewer cities, a distinct option.)

I had considerable misgivings about an opening set from the Zappa Band, a gathering of the namesake iconoclast's sidemen and acolytes. (Three members of this group – Ray White, Bobby Martin, and Scott Thunes – were in the lineup the sole time I saw Zappa perform, in 1984.) But their playing, too, had an infectious authority, and their repertoire bypassed the problematic aspects that for decades have rendered Zappa unlistenable for this former devotée and completist.

I've been listening nearly non-stop to Crimson live recordings during recent weeks—nearly, that is, seeing as how the past two weeks have also included a Bandcamp Friday expedition; a new Iron Maiden epic, Senjutsu; a deluxe reissue of Marillion's second album, Fugazi; and an imposing Van der Graaf Generator box set, The Charisma Years 1970–1978

Predictably, I'm also re-reading the revised/expanded version of the band's definitive biography, In the Court of King Crimson, by Sid Smith. I lost track of how many times I read the original 2002 edition after the fourth or fifth.

Forgive me, please, my fannish wallow… I'll endeavor to return to form shortly.

Night After Night Watch

Mary Halvorson and ensemble at Roulette, Sept. 8, 2021 (Screenshot)


Mary Halvorson Sextet + Mivos Quartet
509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
Thursday, Sept. 9 at 8pm; $25, advance $20
Free livestream (donations accepted)
Proof of at least one vaccination dose or negative test result required

I confess that I only got to dip a toe into the livestream of the ambitious concert guitarist, composer, and bandleader Mary Halvorson presented at Roulette last night, featuring the premiere of two new compositions bound her her Nonesuch Records debut in 2022: Amaryllis, for guitar and string quartet, and Belladonna, for sextet and string quartet. But what I heard was enough to make me look forward to watching the archived video when it's made available—and remember, the second concert will be streaming live, too.


Paola Prestini & Jeffrey Zeigler
National Sawdust
80 N. 6th St., Williamsburg
Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7pm; sold out
Masks and proof of vaccination required

A beautiful, ambitious collaboration between composer Paola Prestini (standard disclaimer: for more than three years my employer at National Sawdust) and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, Houses of Zodiac also involves dance, video, poetry, and more. Jointly presented with Death of Classical, this event is sold out already; with luck, return engagements will follow.


Ambient Church: The Disintegration Loops 20th Anniversary
American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) + Ana Roxane
Riverside Church
490 Riverside Dr., Upper West Side
Saturday, Sept. 11 at 8pm; $65-$75
Masks and proof of vaccination required

This one's now listed in The New Yorker


Tim Berne, Drew Gress & Ches Smith
376 9th St., Brooklyn
Monday, Sept. 13 at 7pm; $15
Free livestream (donations accepted)
Proof of vaccination or recent PCR test result required

Saxophonist Berne takes the tiny stage at Barbès in Park Slope with members of two disparate bands: bassist Gress, from his telepathic free-blowing trio Paraphrase, and percussionist Smith, who plays in his composerly small group Snakeoil. Since the throughlines binding all of Berne's bands are close listening and common regard, the combination should prove instantly cohesive. (In-person tickets and streaming access are available via Viewcy.)


Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė: Sun & Sea
BAM Fisher
321 Ashland Pl., Brooklyn
Wednesday, Sept. 15–Sunday, Sept. 26, times vary; $25
Proof of vaccination required

Direction and set design by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė; libretto by Vaiva Grainytė; music and musical direction by Lina Lapelytė. This provocative Lithuanian installation-opera, presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in its U.S. premiere, won a Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Indelible memories of a previous creation from this same team, Have a Nice Day! (which I reviewed for The New York Times during the 2014 Prototype Festival), has me eagerly anticipating this promising new work.


PRISM Quartet: Heritage/Evolution Marathon
DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 W. 37th St., Manhattan
Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 7pm; $30, seniors and students $20
Masks and proof of vaccination required

Compositions by and collaborations with Chris Potter, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Melissa Aldana, Terell Stafford, and Matthew Levy.

Read even more listings in Night After Night Watch: The Master List, exclusively for paying subscribers.