Kraftwerk Music Festival at PS1 with Juan Atkins

It’s only been a short while since Kraftwerk played the last of their incredibly-difficult-to-purchase-tickets-for 10 back-to-back NYC shows at MoMA, but the city’s Robot Fever is still lingering. Since we probably don’t need to dredge up all the sad “You Are Waiting in the Queue” memories, suffice it to say most of us weren’t lucky enough to attend any of the actual Kraftwerk shows (which, by all accounts, sounded pretty freaking amazing). So when MoMA PS1 announced a two-day “Kraftwerk Music Festival” happening the weekend during Kraftwerk’s show run, we immediately perked up. (Photo gallery and videos after the jump.)

Admittedly, the PS1 festival never promised actual Kraftwerk appearances, solely stating that Saturday’s event would feature a DJ set by The Godfather of Techno Juan Atkins, and that house legend François K would be helming Sunday. However, the “and special surprise guests” part is what got pulses running a bit faster (ours included). We wondered, “Could this be Kraftwerk’s ‘gift’ to fans unable to beat the scalpers or evil ticketing technology?”

Well, not exactly. Although we later heard Kraftwerk founder Ralf Hütter did come out for the Sunday event, Saturday’s crowd got no such surprises (or any special guest performances, for that matter). There was a marked increase in crowd size within the dome during the last 20 minutes or so, which gradually tapered off as people realized there would be no grand finale.

But, eh, let’s get back to the best thing about the day: Mr. Atkins, though pretty calm and collected throughout the three-hour set (well, it was the middle of the afternoon), did get the crowd hyped for a full three hours, playing a pretty awesome set that included Kraftwerk tracks, obscure yet accessible techno, and beloved classic dance songs (“Blue Monday” and “L.F.O.” were particular high points with the crowd).

Museum exhibits were open, and attendees were welcome to hang outside to drink beer and have a snack, yet there was no mistaking this event for PS1’s summertime favorite Warm Up: The weather was certainly pleasant enough, but the crowd was much smaller and appeared to have replaced the usual hipsters (perhaps still smarting from the Kraftwerk ticket shutout) with super random throwbacks straight out of 1993. (This is not a complaint, merely an observation: I have not seen so many original raver dance moves, huge baggy jeans, backward baseball caps with long hair (on men), Doc Martens, etc. since … well, since the ’90s. Theory: The dome has a secret time portal that was able to manifest a direct link from a Juan Atkins set at a Detroit rave circa ’94 to a Juan Atkins set in the present day. But I digress …)

Speaking of the dome, I hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing it earlier this season, but I found it to be a pretty welcome addition to PS1 (shame it will likely go away once Warm Up season begins). See the photos/video here to get a feel for what the Kraftwerk visuals were like, though they probably don’t do the exhibit proper justice: All the iconic Kraftwerk imagery was utilized in simple yet highly innovative ways, cast as projections throughout the dome’s “ceiling” and perfectly complementing the soundtrack. (If you pop into one of the ongoing (for at least the next weekend or two) Kraftwerk tributes that features prominent DJs playing in the dome, you can still catch the Kraftwerk visual exhibition.)

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 05/02/2012  Features, Listen/Watch