Decades before computers occupied every desktop and billions of people began carrying electronic devices in their purses and pockets, a German group set up shop in an electronic studio – which they dubbed Kling Klang – and began combining music with technology to create what they call the Man-Machine.
The result was Kraftwerk, a groundbreaking, futuristic electronic music group that’s widely considered one of the most influential bands of all time, and is credited with laying the sonic groundwork for much of today’s pop music, from new wave to hip-hop, and from stadium-sized pop to dubstep.
Founded by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, Kraftwerk has never stopped drawing a crowd. In the past several years alone, the group has performed at the MOMA in New York, the Kunstsammlung in Düsseldorf, London’s Tate Modern, the Opera House in Sydney and the Akasaka Blitz in Tokyo, and earlier this year picked up a Grammy Lifetime achievement award.
Now they’re back on the road performing their 3D Concert, a show that combines music with the band’s trademark eye-popping visuals, which began in the ’70s as images in a slide projector and have since evolved into complex computer graphics.
Victoria artist Paul Walde is just one of legions of longtime fans heading to the Vancouver show. He first discovered Kraftwerk in a record store bin more than 20 years ago, and now he’s going to the concert with his wife and two kids, who are 12 and 9.
“You can go back and hear how influential that music is, how all these sounds and rhythms have gone on to become staples in pop music. And they have great melodies too,” says Mr. Walde, who adds that the kids love the group because of the computerized voices and robot imagery.
“Even when our son was four, he had a robot party and wanted all his friends to hear Man Machine. They have actually been saving money because they want to buy Kraftwerk gear,” says Mr. Walde with a laugh. “They’re totally into it.”
Along with their audience, the group also continues to evolve. “Kraftwerk is a living organism,” Mr. Hütter, the only remaining founding member, said in a rare interview with The New York Times. “Music is never finished. It starts again tomorrow. The record is just a record, but for us it’s nearly boring. We like better the programs that we can operate with. So we are operating, we are upgrading, we are updating continuously. There’s continuous reprogramming going on, and composition and new concepts are also coming.”
Kraftwerk is performing their 3D Concert at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight (ticketmaster.ca).