As with the Beatles, where you can say music was a particular way before, and then different after their contribution, you can say the same about Kraftwerk. And, though this does not detract from the Beatles at all (who really were behind what we call grunge, which many hailed as something completely new), nothing has really been new since Kraftwerk. All the synth music out there, all those disco beats, all that electronic dance music. . . just go back and listen to Kraftwerk. Maybe bands aren’t even aware of what it is that gave them all this knowledge, but it’s there. The only other band that comes close to this influence – and may just match them – is Joy Division. There would be no indie music without Joy Division.
When Sasquatch! Music Festival ended up canceling its ambitious second day, where Kraftwerk was to appear, I sniffed a Seattle date in the air. The scent was right, and we got a Seattle show! Kraftwerk would play their 3D show at the Paramount. The 3D event, which had been touring, and receiving great reviews, would be here. I also found out shortly before the show I would get to take photos at the show, which got my electronic music loving self all excited.
The German band appeared in those special outfits that can match with a green screen. Why? Because behind the band were all kinds of 3D videos drawing on themes of their songs: Giant robots – one for each band member – for “The Robots,” white and black city landscapes for “Metropolis,” green digital numbers on black for “Numbers,” the video for “The Model” during that song, early Tour de France footage for “Tour de France,” animation of cars on the Autobahn during “Autobahn,” and stark black, white and red words and lines for “The Man-Machine.” The concept worked with Kraftwerk’s music by moving out into the audience in a way that matched with, and never distracted from the songs. I also appreciated the equality among the band. By placing them all in a row I never had the feeling that one was more important than the other, even though Ralf Hütter is the only founding member currently performing.
At a certain point of the show, audience members went into the aisle to boogie. As the aisle dancers did their thing, I noticed the man next to me, who was playing air synth along with the music. He was so into the music, and so appreciative, and I enjoyed seeing that. “Computer Love” is real.