Kraftwerk, Masonic Temple, Detroit, June 4, 2022

you can't sit down.

Kraftwerk, Masonic Temple, Detroit, June 4, 2022

‎I went to see Kraftwerk Saturday night, an impulse ticket bought as the result of a train of thought that went something like this: what is the capacity of masonic? let me look this up, I haven’t been there yet - oh look, Kraftwerk are playing - I am in town - there are still a lot of tickets - I should go see them - *click*. The show started at 8:30, the doors (allegedly) opened at 7, and yet, when I approached the venue, there was a lengthy line for ticket holders that extended past the venue and around the block. It moved, but slowly enough that people around me expressed concern about whether the show would start on time and if it did, would we still be outside.

The queue wasn’t actually anything rigorous, I have no idea what caused the line backup because the show was nowhere near sold out -- people around me mused that maybe it had sold out, and the result was this ridiculous line we were waiting on. Yes, some of it was old people not understanding how ticketing apps work or bothering to have the app open on their phone as they reached the scanners, but not all of it could be attributed to that. Some of it was likely caused by the metal detectors and bag checks, but I was both annoyed and concerned that while the security guard was rigorously poking through my small clutch looking for I don’t know what, the man in front of me was basically told to hold his hand over his belt buckle so he didn’t set off the metal detector, which of course invalidates the use of the metal detector! Especially when all around me I could hear the security telling all the men to do this.

Meanwhile, I was told to take off my watch, a thing I did not want to do because I didn’t want to risk losing it or it falling out of my purse.

When I finally walked into the hall, it was half full and never got past ⅔ full, so I have no fucking idea why it took forever to get inside. The security check did nothing to keep us safe. They policed someone finishing a granola bar in the queue next to me: “SIR YOU HAVE TO THROW THAT OUT.”

This is so fucking dumb. It is just so fucking dumb.

And then I woke up Sunday morning and found out that there had been another mass shooting, this time in Philadelphia, on South Street. It’s not a coincidence that the Roots Family Picnic was this weekend (even though it wasn’t anywhere near South Street) and that it was South Street. If you’ve never spent time in Philly, understand that South Street was the Greenwich Village of Philly, it was the place you went if you were a weirdo to find other weirdos. It has gentrified like all of these places have gentrified but South Street has a specific meaning to people from the area.

This is from 2012, but he’s been covering it forever, the Dovells’ “You Can’t Sit Down.” It mentions South Street, it is a very Philly song!!

People who know more about this than me point out that Saturday night on South Street has tremendous police presence, so the terrorists didn’t go there thinking there wouldn’t be police. They went there because it was South Street, because it was Saturday night on South Street, because it was Saturday night on South Street the weekend of the Roots Family Picnic. You might just head there after you left the Mann, because you’d find something open down there. When I started going to Philly in the 80s, I knew to go to South Street if I was looking for a record store or a macrobiotic restaurant or a punk rock bar. There was a lot of punk rock on South Street. It is not an accident that these fuckers went to South Street to kill people.

If you’re going to let people get around the metal detectors at a concert venue because they’re over-detecting or not detecting then let’s just admit that it’s not about safety and it’s about selling drinks and other concessions -- or not even that, it’s just SECURITY THEATER. Besides which, terrorists and other criminals who target concert events aren’t bringing their guns into the venue, they’re coming in later or positioning themselves outside. A great target would be the gigantic line of people that are waiting to get into the concert!

I am going to have nightmares again, the same kinds of nightmares I had after the Bataclan. This isn’t worrying about what happens if the stage collapses or the lights fall out of the rigging, there is literally nothing I can do to prevent myself from being shot at a concert. Meanwhile, concert promoters everywhere are going to tell me I can’t bring a purse into the show as a “safety” measure. THIS IS SO FUCKING DUMB, IT IS INSULTING.

If you’re going to argue with me about gun laws, please do me a favor and hit unsubscribe now.

beautiful hall, good sound, horrible seats

beautiful hall, good sound, horrible seats

I remember hearing Kraftwerk on college radio, those nights I would sit up and turn the dial to the far left to see what I could find. You would hear things like “Trans-Europe Express” or “Pocket Calculator” or “Autobahn,” and I vividly remember hearing these songs and waiting for the air check to find out who it was, looking for articles about them, adding it to the pile of knowledge I was amassing. It was different, it was interesting, it was funny -- how can “Pocket Calculator” ever not be hilarious? Hearing new and strange things late at night on the radio was an activity that was both private and highly public; you were listening to it on the radio, so it was going out across the airwaves, and that meant that countless other people you didn’t know were listening to it at the same time you were.

When Springsteen found a place for his evergreen “is anybody alive out there” exhortation in “Radio Nowhere” on 2007’s Magic, I knew exactly what he meant, that feeling of the radio as your lifeline, as your connection, as your sanity. It didn’t matter whether you were listening to an oldies AM station or late-night gospel preachers or local call-in shows, it was that element of human beings united through something that was happening simultaneously. It was why I always wanted a Walkman that had an AM-FM radio, so I could troll the dial to hear what was going on whether I was traveling in the States or in Europe.

There’s a certain incongruity to a band that was so forward thinking and modern creating a vibe in 2022 that felt firmly grounded in the 80s. Watching the show was an unexpected portal back to stumbling upon their music when it first made its way over here and remembering what it was like to hear something so singular. I thought I wouldn’t particularly appreciate the immersive experience of the 3-D video accompaniment, but it was artfully pleasing, and held your attention while still giving your brain room to move, or ruminate.

There was an unexpected gentle collective energy generated by the live performance, part of the credit for which goes to the audience. It was Pride weekend, and the week after Movement; the people who went to see the show knew where they were going and why. Once again I will shout out a Detroit audience who was attentive and energetic, and knew and cared about these songs. This is not a thing I was expecting at a Kraftwerk performance, but it is a thing I am going to remain grateful about living here.