Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn. Look at that image: four elderly Dieters called Kraftwerk singing and playing their hit “Autobahn” in concert. Is it not the Germanest thing ever?
I went to their show in New Orleans last night with my son Matt. He turns 17 later this month, and asked for tickets as his birthday present. Techno music is not my thing, but Matthew is my thing, so I took him. Techno music is still not my thing, but I had more fun than I expected to have.
It helped that we had dinner before the show at Domenica, in the Roosevelt Hotel, across the street from the theater. Matt had pizza. I had campanelle in white bolognese sauce, and thought I had died and gone to heaven.
On the way into the concert, the ushers handed out disposable 3D glasses, which were necessary to get the full effect of the show’s visuals. I knew a little about Kraftwerk’s sound, but never got into their music. They were big in the ’70s and ’80s, but it still surprised me that most people in the crowd were as old or older than I. And they were so into the show. It delighted me that people were so appreciative in their applause. Matt said the group played many of its greatest hits. These are songs lots of these folks grew up on.
The group is not really a band. It’s four guys who stand on stage, each behind a synthesizer. They took the stage wearing some kind of glowing futuristic spandex-looking suits, which in at least the singer’s case could not hide his old man’s belly (as a middle-aged man with a belly, I found this endearing). When the first song started, and the 3D graphics began to fly around the room, I felt like I was in TRON (well, TRÖN) or something.
I can’t tell you much about the music, except that it was loud, and the effect of the whole show was a complete nerdgasm. I swear I saw Comic Book Guy in the crowd. There was such a sweet naivete to the music, and to the sense of the show itself. “That music is completely devoid of irony,” Matt said on the walk back to the car, and he was right. It’s like the soundtrack for a happy fairy tale about the future. It is completely and deliberately inhuman, which is probably why I don’t like it that much (that, and it all kind of sounds the same), but it’s not anti-human, and I can see why people love it. It was a pleasure to be there with Matt and all those other people who adored those Germans, all of whom smiled sweetly as they took individual bows at show’s end.
Are you a Kraftwerk fan? If so, tell us why you love them. I’m interested.