I was lucky enough to attend Kraftwerk’s spectacular 3-D show this past Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl. The group looked just like their album covers: 4 guys standing in front of small pedestal platforms with keyboards on them. They wore identical form-fitting jumpsuits with a glowing grid pattern, which seemed to change colors as the videos changed. (Did anyone else think that they could have stepped out of the movie Tron?) The show’s combination of music with 3-D graphics and video made for quite the immersive concert experience.
Although I’ve known their music since it became popular in the 1980’s, I wasn’t as familiar with Kraftwerk’s early 1970’s songs, some of which they performed on Sunday. Kraftwerk presaged and greatly influenced the music that followed in its footsteps — electronica, techno, midi sound libraries, autotune — and it’s amazing to think that they wrote all these songs before computers took over our daily lives. Here is a band that has released only one new record (2003’s Tour de France Soundtracks) since 1986, yet their music is still so cherished and well-remembered that they can sell-out 18,000 seats on a Sunday night! You can’t say that about a lot of other bands. It’s impressive, and speaks to their enduring vision.
I also want to give props to our local chamber group The Lyris Quartet, which opened the evening with classical interpretations of famous Kraftwerk songs, as well as KCRW’s own Jason Bentley, who introduced the evening and showed the audience his vintage cassette single of “Pocket Calculator.” With a full house of fans on a beautiful evening, plus all these great songs, it was a night to remember. I’m keeping my 3-D glasses as a souvenir.