Kraftwerk's Orlando show was a masterstroke of artistry and mystique

Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk
Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk Photo by Jim Leatherman

I wasn’t even going to write about this. But apparently, I’m inveterate.

I was at the Kraftwerk concert (June 24, Dr. Phillips Center). It was my first show in over two years. The itch, of course, has been there all along. But there are life things more important than covering live music, and I’ve tried to stay as safe as I can for my nearest and dearest.

However imprudent I myself feel it is to be “over” a pandemic that’s not over with us, things are getting back to business as usual. So I ventured out to this concert more covertly than I’ve done in nearly 20 years. I hadn’t planned on covering it at all. I didn’t line up press credentials or a photographer (thankfully, our trusty Jim Leatherman was already there). I didn’t even take the opportunity to make it an overdue social thing, save for the sole high-school pal I quietly made plans to go with. Returning after this much time and change in circumstance was fraught enough, so I wanted to go in with as little pressure as possible. I just wanted to go back as a music fan.

In the complex calculus of personal considerations I’ve been weighing, this show was the one that I just could not let slip by. For one, it’s Kraftwerk, not just one of my own pet favorites but one of the most seminal, peerless and important music acts of all goddamn time. Furthermore, I never thought I’d get to see them. Their touring demand is worldwide and they’re not exactly road dogs. When their original Orlando date
for summer 2020 became a COVID casualty, it seemed fate was against it, plain and
simple.

After two years, a rescheduled date actually materialized. No, this time I would not be denied. For their part, Kraftwerk were breathtaking in a show that was a masterstroke of conceptual artistry, digital mystique and monolithic legend. Their famous 3-D show brought the group’s iconic aesthetic to vivid life. Their red-shirted, black-tied mannequins made a show-stopping appearance. Nods to Orlando even made it into their visuals. And here I am writing about it.

This piece, however, isn’t entirely about Kraftwerk. It’s more personal than anything. I had to get it out because that old hardwiring doesn’t just go away. It’ll probably be another minute or two before I’m the beat hound I was before, but it was so fucking good to be at a live show again.

There’s absolutely nothing in all of human experience like the communion of live performance. While this isn’t an original observation, it was life-affirming to be reminded of it in such a brilliant way. That’s why we keep doing it, why we’ll always keep doing it, no matter what.

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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