WEDNESDAY

Folks who’ve heard King Crimson’s music usually fall into two camps: the indifferent and the fanatical. It’s pretty easy to understand how the 31-year-old band—now a quartet—could leave its listeners apathetic. Crimso’s lyrics are Tolkien fodder at best and horse waste at worst (“Cat Food,” anyone?). And the band’s tightly composed art-rock—although seminal—is sometimes heavier on pretense than rawk—you know, real blood-sweat-and-piss rock ‘n’ roll. Yet despite its tightassed transgressions (lead guitarist and sole original member Robert Fripp sits while he plays, for chrissakes!) the band is ultimately, well, lovable. William Faulkner could’ve been referring to King Crimson when he wrote: “[Y]ou don’t love because; you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.” Fripp and his mates may fly their flaws like flags, but when these limeys hit their stride, it’s a positively epic experience. Take 1975’s anthemic instrumental “Red” (from the album of the same name): It’s easily the best song Don Caballero never wrote, and its dense, spiraling blocks of distorted guitar and Mellotron jive prefigure and shred anything currently operating under the post-whatever tag. “Red” is proof positive that the band can play powerful, metallic stomp as ripe as anything from Elvis’ Sun sessions or the Stooges’ Fun House or Black Flag’s Damaged. Who cares if the new album’s any good? It’s King Fuckin’ Crimson! At 7:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $35. (202) 667-7960. (Brent Burton)