Tickets for Kraftwerkâ€™s eight-night retrospective sold out almost as soon as they were announced. Why wouldnâ€™t they? Eight nights, eight albums, one a night: a chronological showcase of their entire electronic period. I knew about it, but entertained no dreams of attending. I wasnâ€™t fast enough; besides, I was broke. But a friend won a pair of tickets to last nightâ€™s show; when he offered me one, I couldnâ€™t refuse. That would be beyond rude. It would be insane.
We arrived early at the Marron Atrium of the Museum of Modern Art, normally home to travelling exhibits. Each concertgoer received a seven-inch by seven-inch program providing a brief biography of Kraftwerk and explaining their influence. (Suffice it to say that contemporary music owes them a lot.) My companion and I also each got a pair of 3-D glasses in a sleeve specific to that nightâ€™s performance: 1977â€™s Trans-Europe Express. As crowds filtered in, we surveyed the merchandise table, where one could buy limited CD box sets and coffee table books on the groupâ€™s history. Around me I heard the clipped sounds of German from both event staff (the residency is sponsored by Volkswagen) and from guests. It felt â€¦ comforting. This was the right place to see them.
At precisely 8:30 PM, the lights dimmed as a series of booms emanated from the speakers. Black and white pixilated figures danced on the screen hung before the stage. I slipped the 3-D glasses over my own and shut up. Suddenly, a Vocoder-distorted voice spilt the air: a railroad station departure announcement. The curtain dropped. Kraftwerk launched into â€œTrans-Europe Express.â€ The crowd erupted into cheers.