full Coachella round-up to follow ASAP (I have to wait for The Skinny to publish it).
Unlike Hot Chip, who brought the Sahara house down with a frantic show before Kraftwerk ambled onto the main stage, Kraftwerk were determinedly immobile, standing almost completely still behind laptop stands, with only the occasional mouse movement confirming that we were looking at real people. Still, with no obvious sight of musical creation, and initially no deviation from the songs as recorded, it did cross my mind that this could be four random men playing Minesweeper while a ‘Best Of’ CD-R played off a stereo. "But I don’t care", I thought, "It’s a thrill just to see a rough version of Kraftwerk standing on-stage while their songs play loudly, and backed by the giant screen animations". Why is that? Why wouldn’t I really mind if they were just playing off a CD-R?
The Kraftwerk show had a different dynamic from most gigs, which are two-way interactions, dialogues not monologues. Well, this was too, but most gigs are weighted the other way - the artist performs to win over a crowd, a crowd reacts (or doesn't react) accordingly. In this case, Kraftwerk weren't "performing" at all, they weren't seeking to win any new fans, but the crowd was reacting anyway. More than a performance for fans, this was an appearance for worship, a chance for established fans to cheer our praises and give thanks for all the recorded Kraftwerk we'd enjoyed already. And Ralf Hutter’s mere presence gave authority to all four men together being dubbed Kraftwerk, so we can cheer for them all without knowing who the hell the other three were.
Seems silly, really, when it's put like that.