Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Kraftwerk-9/6/16 Cobb Energy Centre, Smyrna, GA

Kraftwerk. The German electronic group that are really the godfathers of electronic music is probably one of the most influential groups in the history of popular music. Their innovative usage of the synthesizers, vocoders, and other electronic-based instruments that would be the basis for all of electronic music definitely changed the course of music despite the fact that they still haven’t been inducted in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame even though they’re not a rock band. Yet, Kraftwerk’s influence in popular music is undeniable as it helped pave the way for the synth-pop groups of the 1980s to emerge while David Bowie was inspired by them for the title track to his 1976 album Station to Station. In the early 1980s, Kraftwerk would also play a key role in the emergence of hip-hop when Afrikka Bambaatta and Soulsonic Force sampled the title track of Trans Europa Express and the song Numbers for the very seminal Planet Rock.

While the group is currently led by its co-founder Ralf Hutter with longtime electronic percussionist Fritz Hilpert and another longtime member in keyboardist/percussionist Henning Schmitz along with live technician Falk Grieffenhagen who joined the group in 2013. The band has maintained that sense of prestige as they’re currently taking part of another American tour of their 3-D show which includes a rare show here in Smyrna, GA at the Cobb Energy Centre. The idea of them coming to somewhere like Atlanta as they’ve been known for playing mostly major cities like New York City and Los Angeles is just astonishing. For me, it was something where I had to go as it is likely this is the only show they might ever play here and fortunately, it was only a few minutes from where I live.

Leaving at around 7:45 as it was just a nice drive from my home to the Cobb Energy Centre which I have never been at. It is a beautiful place as I was at the second mezzanine in a good seat where it was in the middle right towards the stage. There were a few people dressed up like members of the band during the 1970s as one of them got his vinyl copy of Tour de France Soundtracks signed by the band. At around 8:35, noises from the stage began to emerge with the curtain displaying images of pixilated robots in front of the curtain with a screen behind the curtain going on. Then, the house lights were off as the band made their arrival to the stage to begin with the song Numbers. The downside of the show is that despite the amazing light and screen show they display. It has to be seen in 3D with 3D glasses as they’re given to the audiences for free as they get annoying to wear throughout the show. Yet, what they do with the 3D effects actually makes the glasses worth it no matter how annoying they are.

The fact that a lot of the visual effects come right at the screen and in display in 3D is truly wondrous as it is clear that in an age of high-energy lights and spectacles that is common with a lot of EDM shows. Kraftwerk is a group that does it right by just going for something simple but also create something that is truly out of this world. Notably in the visual performances for tracks like Computer Love, The Man-Machine, and Spacelab where in that track. There are these gorgeous 3D images that includes a Google Earth map pointer on Smyrna, GA which got cheers while the satellite seen on 3D would be right at the audience. The song would end with a flying saucer landing in front of the Cobb Energy Centre as it is one of the visual highlights. Songs such as The Model and Tour de France feature film clips in the background with the latter featuring added visual 3D effects as it also can be seen without the glasses.

Other highlights are some of the backing videos for the songs Autobahn and Trans Europa Express as it has these gorgeous images that play into the world of modernism. Another highlight of the show was in its encore for Robots where robots appeared moving around with video images behind them. It is a moment that is just fun to watch while the group would return for the final two songs as they would wear these unique costumes throughout the show as it featured lights on the suits that would appear for a different song.

Though the show wasn’t a full sellout, the reaction from the audience was definitely positive despite the fact that everyone has to sit though there were a few in the back that was dancing to the music. It was hard to sit and not stand just so the music can be enjoyed. Before the show began, ushers revealed that recordings can’t be allowed but since this is the age where everything has to be captured on a phone. Some were able to record whatever they can as did I though I only got a minute of Computer Love through the phone while I also, guiltily, admit to taking some pictures of the show while frequently apologizing to the man sitting in front of me as I don’t know how to turn off the flash. Plus, it’s not my phone as it’s my mother’s as it is something I don’t own (and I just lost the photos and videos when trying to copy them into my laptop).

The show overall is incredible as it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime event. Kraftwerk really put on something that music fans have to see. It’s not just in the music as it sounds great while putting on a set devoted to some of their finest songs. Especially as the men who were the godfathers of the electronic music scene not only still manage to create a show that will never be replicated but also prove they’re still ahead of everyone else. In the end, Kraftwerk 3D is an experience that is really unlike many shows that are out there.

Setlist: Set 1: Numbers/Computer World, Computer Love, The Man-Machine, Spacelab, The Model, Neon Lights, Metropolis, Autobahn, Geiger Counter/Radioactivity, Tour de France, Trans Europa Express

Encore: Robots, Planet of Visions, Music Non Stop

© thevoid99 2016