Growing up, I’d heard of many bands and artists from my parents. I remember listening to The Beatles since birth, Chumbawamba at age 3, and discovering albums by Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order, Kate Bush and more in our extensive CD collection.
When my dad was my age, he listened to a band that revolutionized music forever: Kraftwerk. He introduced me to tracks like “Autobahn” and “The Model.” My music taste today was shaped by these bands I grew up with, and the music industry itself was shaped by these German pioneers. So to follow in my father’s footsteps, I jumped on the opportunity to witness the fathers of electronic music live.
I did some research before the show to see what I was in for. This tour is a 3D live show. From the quick snapshots I saw, the show was a visual one. With the four musicians standing in front of their instruments, they were backdropped by a series of images and animations to match the sounds, projected in 3D for the audience's viewing pleasure.
Making my way to my seat in the Keller Auditorium on the day of the show, I wasn’t at all surprised to receive a pair of complementary Kraftwerk 3D glasses along with my ticket. The seats slowly began to fill in, and I even spotted some Kraftwerk superfans dressed in the iconic red button-up shirts and black ties. My excitement to experience these legends was growing exponentially.
Kraftwerk came out to much fanfare with a medley of “Numbers” and “Computer World.” Right from the start, the visual effects captivated everyone in attendance. As the voiced number sequences began the show, corresponding images of numerals flew above us—and this was only the beginning.
As Kraftwerk launched into their 20-song set, every song came with more visual spectacles. “Autobahn” was accompanied by images of animated highways, “Trans-Europe Express” came with a train. Every image projected on the screen flowed perfectly with the sound they produced.
Listening to Kraftwerk makes you think about where music has come in the last 40 years. Kraftwerk began their journey in 1970, right when The Beatles’ era was coming to an end, while bands like the Jackson 5, Simon and Garfunkel and Three Dog Night were dominating the charts. As these rockers and pop stars were making music for the times in which they lived, Kraftwerk were 30 years ahead of the curve, already using computers to craft their sound.
As I listen to Kraftwerk in 2015, I imagine hearing it in 1970: It would’ve been like hearing the future. The methods and sounds Kraftwerk produced 40 years ago are the same you hear from artists today. Clean Bandit, Disclosure, Odesza: These artists are doing things Kraftwerk have been doing for decades. That, in itself, is mind-blowing.
As Kraftwerk left the stage for the first time, the audience went crazy, craving an encore or even two. Luckily, the German quartet delivered. For their encore performance of “The Robots,” the stage was now occupied by four animatronic band members (watch a video below), and the crowd absolutely loved it. For the second encore, the band themselves came out and gave us a few more, including “Expo 2000,” “Aerodynamik” and “Musique Non Stop.”
As the band members left the stage for the final time, the audience were on their feet. “Goodnight,” Ralf Hütter said. “Auf Wiedersehen.”