On Stage with King Crimson: The Live Rig of the Radical Action Tour

Robert Fripp has always pushed the limits of rock music as the leader of King Crimson, but the band’s tour that started last month is a whole ‘nother kind of ambitious.

Upon hitting the road for the first time in three years, the band comprises an ambitious array of two guitarists, a bassist, a sax player, and four drummers, two of which switch off on keyboards. Anyway, we knew we needed to check it out.

We were lucky enough to get an up–close–and–personal look at King Crimson’s live rig before the band’s gig at the Chicago Theatre on June 28, and their setups are predictably surprising.

Fripp's tech, Deptford, gave us the skinny on Fripp's own rig, which starts with a custom–built Fernandes guitar with a Sustainiac pickup, MIDI pickup, and Kahler locking tremolo system.

That MIDI pickup running out to an 11–pin jack speaks to Fripp’s long–running fascination with the digital side of guitar processing, which we saw manifest in his use of the Eventide H3500, Roland GR1 Guitar Synthesizer, and two Fractal Audio AxeFX II units. Fripp uses a computer on stage to redesign effects on those Fractal units on the fly.

And because all of that hardware isn’t enough, Fripp uses two Eventide H8000FW to construct his synthetic soundscapes in quad.

Tony Levin’s bass and Chapman Stick rig is equally impressive, as he has a tasty pedalboard featuring top–of–the–line mass production delays like the Boss DD–500 and the Electro–Harmonix Stereo Memory Man w/ Hazarai, as well as choice boutique picks like the 3Leaf Audio Octave and Analogman Bi–Compressor. Levin also employs two Kemper Profilers.

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