More Hate For Kraftwerk In Minneapolis

A lot of people commented on the recent post Minneapolis Hates Kraftwerk, which featured an excerpt from the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s review of Kraftwerk’s 100-minute show at the Myth nightclub.

The Star Tribune said that the show had “all the flair of a power-point presentation at a mortgage-foreclosure seminar”, and that “the identically clad-in-black musicmakers stage demeanor was as emotionless and unanimated as the music itself.”

Electronic music performance site LivePA’s M.A.S. has weighed in on Kraftwerk’s Milwaukee show. He calls it “the best and worst” show he’s seen:

This show was great, but also at the same time horrible.

We have discussed on this blog and over there many avenues the issues surrounding LivePA. One of the most common issues that always come up in discussions is the laptop debate. Along with that is the artist who just sits there staring at their laptop through and entire show. That is exactly what Kraftwerk did. Stared at their laptops, all four of them and didn’t move.

Now I know this is sort of their schtick, and in many respects many of the stereotypes of electronic music and musicians have been formed based off of Kraftwerk, but seeing them really do this in person is a rather unnerving experience. You can also see the crowd not knowing exactly what they should be doing during the music because of the stiffness of the artists on stage. At only a few points throughout the entire show did I see anyone really get dancing.

Overall though I don’t want to totally rag on the show. The music was very tight and well done. The visuals were spot on and I can only speculate that one of the four on stage was controlling the visuals. This tightness in their set however leads me to believe that they have a very choreographed performance, with little room for improvisation. Are they checking their email on state? I can’t tell. Heck, I can barely tell that the performers are still alive.

He’s right, this is part of Kraftwerk’s schtick – but people still want to see a show that kicks ass, and it just doesn’t kick ass when it looks like the performers are checking their email!

Check the comments on the original post for more viewpoints, and if you’ve seen the Kraftwerk show, add your two cents worth!

19 thoughts on “More Hate For Kraftwerk In Minneapolis

  1. Are you guys serious? Kraftwerk is one of the most influential electronic music acts in the world. You know their drummer invented the drum pad, just so he could sit still and drum and thereby not interfere with their “schtick,” as you call it.

    I’m looking forward to future posts in which you claim that Frankie Knuckles ruined disco, Juan Atkins makes “that weird spacey music,” and Future Sound of London is “just a bunch of guys who never leave their house.”

  2. Empire – thanks for your comments – but you might want to check out the original post for some context.

  3. I was at the show in Milwaukee, and I viewed it as somewhat of a religious experience. It surprises me that all of the reviewers of the show seem to not get Kraftwerk’s whole schtick that they’ve been doing forever. This isn’t a new thing that they stand up their like- surprise- robots and play minimal pop beats against graphically bold visuals. They’re from the future, for the love of God.

    This, of course, is coming from me, a DJ who has often scoffed at laptop DJ performances as being boring. Although, recently, I took the plunge myself. I should note, however, that Kraftwerk were all playing live keyboards at the show. You could actually hear the moments when the keyboards would go a little off sync in that way that human playing does. The one downside to the show was the absence of Florian Schneider, one of the original two members of Kraftwerk along with Ralf Hutter.

    In reply to Empire, I’m a big fan of Juan Atkins, but you’d be amazed by how many techno and house heads dismiss early Detroit Techno as being cheesy. Yeah, it’s dated, but so is Kraftwerk. At the same time, both achieved a vision of things to come that has had a lasting impact on electronic music.

  4. Bill

    Thanks for the comment. It seems like people either are fans and love the current show, or are viewing the show as just another concert, and are disappointed by the lack of visual connection between what the musicians are doing and what you hear.

    A great example of a DJ that communicates what he’s doing in a musically visual way is BT. He does some insane stuff, his body communicates what he’s doing & nobody thinks he’s checking his email!

  5. This may be re-hashing what’s been said before, but I’m kind of confused as to why people would expect anything different from a Kraftwerk show. If you look up youtube vids of them from ages ago, they’re doing the same thing, except maybe with a drum pad, mic, and stylophone instead of laptops… I agree about stage presence, but I think their point of view is to let the music speak for itself. I say this as a performer in a band that concentrates really hard on having a ridiculous and interesting stage show, though I can see the side of the coin.
    granted, they’re moving a bit more in this one.

  6. i KRAFTWERK sono i KRAFTWERK e basta! possibile che si debba SEMPRE fare paragoni e SEMPRE trovare qualcosa che non va… perchè chi assiste ad un concerto non si limita a dire “bello” o “brutto” senza fare paragoni e poi gli artisti sono GRANDI quando fanno quello che sanno fare. Se la musica piace anche se in concerto non sono come ci si aspetta… pazienza… gli artisti sono artisti e i KRAFTWERK sono!!!

  7. I was at the show in Denver.

    Kraftwerk’s music has always explored the boundaries between human and machine — the performance does the same.

    Through their music, Kraftwerk asks the questions of what IS it to be human and create art? Where are the boundaries between player and instrument? Are we not just machines ourselves? Are we not programmed? And if the art is perfected is it more human or machine? Which is flawed, which flawless? And how is it so different going to a concert seeing live musicians play?

    The laptop IS the point. It’s just another evolution of the concept of instrument.

    1. They did three warm up shows to prepare for the 2008 Coachella Festival which they co-headlined along with Prince and Portishead. The first time they co-headlined there was with Radiohead and The Pixies reunion back in 2004 and it sold out. They hardly ever tour here. So be thankful if you did get a chance to see them. Maybe when their new 3D show gets here you motherfuckers won't be so goddamn bored. If you want to have your ass rocked off, go see Slayer. If you want bells and whistles, go to the fucking circus. If you want to see one of the most influential bands of all time within the last 41 years whose members don't look like bloated cariactures of dinosaurs, go see Kraftwerk. Have your chest cracked open by the bass and deal with the fact that real music speaks for itself. Go back to music college and buy a copy of Computer World, The Man Machine and Trans Europe Express. Before you graduate, you will have learned that at least half of today's music would not exist without them.

  8. Wow Really?? I seen them in Toronto, and the crowd danced from start to finish. A great time was had by all. Im hoping they come back…

  9. I have read this review of the Kraftwerk gig in minneapolis. I must state at the outset that i was not present at the gig. However, I have viewed some of the many youtube videos of it. Further, I have seen Kraftwerk live a number of times throughout the years. The most recent being their show in Dublin in Sept 08.
    Firstly, in order to review any bands performance live, one must have a knowledge of the music itself and the context in which the music is presented. A general knowledge of the history of the band would also help.
    With Kraftwerk, they have certain aesthetic, a rather austere almost ascetic one, both one-stage and in the presentation of their messages and melodies. This is the Kraftwerk way; it is their aesthetic. Therefore when one goes to see a Kraftwerk concert one is going to see Kraftwerk not Nickelback, Rage Against the Machine or Underground Resistance et al. This is why they are much-loved by many people; and it is also the attitude one should adopt in order to review a concert by them.
    My opinion is, I have seen all the great, classic bands, The Stones, The Who. Rage Against the Mchine, Pink Flloyd etc and they all have their live performance and each is unique and wonderful.
    But the most astonishing, thrilling, spectacular and awe-inspiring event was the most recent Kraftwerk concert in Dublin. This was even without one of their founding members Florian Schneider-Esleben. The music speaks for itself as does the Kraftwerk aesthetic (with rolling, gushing, beautiful visuals to accompany each song). The personnel of the band don’t matter. Its the music and the presence. This ideal is the one which lives on, not the personnel. This is the Kraftwerk way.

  10. I think it’s silly and unfair to expect musicians to give crazy, wild, passionate, or emotional performances. (it sounds rather embarrassingly American too in its lack of subtlety). And this bit about being “disappointed by the lack of visual connection between what the musicians are doing and what you hear” You mean watching someone’s fingers move? Some musicians don’t need to act out the notes they’re playing with their whole bodies. I feel bad for artists with unreceptive audiences, but so many of the great and unique ones have encountered that sort of thing that it seems normal.

  11. Jel MG – who said anything about expecting musicians to give “crazy, wild, passionate, or emotional performances”, except you?

    If there’s no visual correlation between what a musician does on stage and what the audience hears, the audience has no idea what the musician is doing.

    Some might argue that’s part of the point of Kraftwerk’s performance, though.

  12. So Kraftwerk just stands there doing the performance? Wow, what a
    revelation (to those who’ve never heard anything about Kraftwerk)
    Guess what- That Is The Point. A cold, sterile show. They should be glad
    they get to see/hear Kraftwerk at any rate.

  13. Kraftwerk doesn’t tour to gain audience or reputation with a great live show (they don’t need to). Kraftwerk tours at the demand of their loving fans who want to see them perform live with any amount of improvisation. Their improvisation may seem negligible when compared to acoustic groups, but fans who’ve been listening to recordings since the 70’s will appreciate every nuance of a live performance.

  14. Apparently none of the reviewers went to the show with any context for what they should expect. Damn kids. Kraftwerk, while being dance-able were never an arena rock sort of act. It’s too bad that the reviewers regard Kraftwerk’s work based on the rather one dimensional viewpoint that a musical act should “move around”. Kraftwerk has a long and rich history that includes musical innovation, development of a unique stage presence as well as creation of genre defying, modern sound scapes. It’s my opinion that music reviewers SHOULD have a DEEP understanding of music history and hence more able to critique with a broader sense of knowledge to draw from… much like an art historian does. Anyone with a lesser set of tools should stay home playing air guitar to NIN. (whom I hate)

  15. I know this was written forever ago – anyways, I was at this show too. Of course Kraftwerk was stiff and wooden during the whole thing. The fact that the actual group was there (well, Hutter and 3 other guys) didn’t really matter to me. It was a chance to hear Kraftwerk’s music played on an insanely awesome sounding system in a crowd of a thousand other fans. Best night of my life.

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