We Went There: Kraftwerk at Northrop Auditorium
Legendary German electronic outfit Kraftwerk graced our fair city on Thursday night for a stop on their 3D tour, which saw the band playing a collection of their greatest hits with visuals behind them that jumped out at the audience via our 3D glasses. Biking home from the show, I found myself working through a series of questions, off of which I based the Q&A with myself below to gather my thoughts from the outstanding, nearly two and a half hour show.
Question: Can you produce/perform music that still sounds wildly futuristic if time has clearly caught up to you as an artist.
Answer: Yes. Despite sweeps of grey hair, in the cases where there was hair left, the four current members of the group played the part in every way possible. From their minimal grooving to their reflective body suits, the group played the part in every way possible, highlighting that no matter what their age, they still get it.
Question: Can a set be amazing and still feel too long?
Answer: Yes. There were no gigantic lulls in nearly two and a half hour set, but it still was exhausting. I don’t know what I would have cut, but by the end I was starting to wonder if this was some sort of German endurance test for those of us in the stuffy auditorium.
Question: Could any other band pull off a 3D concert without it feeling like a gimmick?
Answer: Probably not. Whether the bikes for the Tour De France suite, the unwinding road during “Autohahn,” the nerve-wracking flashing during “Radioactivity (Fukushima Version)” or the google map that eventually landed a spaceship on the lawn of Northrop (to wild applause from the “they know about us!” crowd), even the most tacky parts of the visuals matched the sometimes tacky art and repetition of the band. It was entertaining, and on more than one occasion actually took a great song and made it even more compelling.
Question: Is the encore of the band leaving the stage and leaving actual robots on their podiums to swing their arms during “The Robots” awesome?
Question: Did the show live up to your expectation, as someone who had long loved the band but had never seen them live?
Answer: Yes, whether dusting off their “hits” or diving into eight minute ambient excursions, the group highlighted why they are such an important institution. While they’ve gotten older, their music has a power and grace that isn’t encumbered by age. I would have loved the show even without the engaging visual show they pulled together, but having the visuals only served to bring the songs to live even more. It felt like the band understood their place in history, that the crowd wanted to hear their classic songs, but that they continued to try to create an experience that moved forward the parameters of their sound. It didn’t feel like a “farewell” or “victory lap” tour, but one of a band that continues to want to stretch themselves and their audience. It felt like a show that didn’t have answers folded neatly into a pile that each person simply accepted when they walked in the door, but a show that was meant to explore and dive deeper, which clearly worked on me.
Writer / co-founder