April 15, 2012
At the subway entrance, Schneider picked up a copy of the New York Post.
SWILLARY—Hill knocks back brew as scandal rocks summit!
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday slugged back a beer and kicked up her heels at a Cuban-themed nightclub in Cartagena, as the brewing Secret Service prostitution scandal stunned the Summit of the Americas in Colombia. America’s top diplomat was all smiles as she… (cont. on page 4)
Next stop: breakfast at Joe’s Coffee (9 East 13th) with Steven Levy. There was music in the café at noon and revolution in the air when Levy mapped out the future of the music on the Internet. “We will soon have live streams of every single concert all over the world. We’ll be able to share not only the live experience but also to browse through endless stream archives. Our perception of time will change, as will our understanding of music. I could even imagine that the format of the album will be replaced by the format of the live show.”
Levy couldn’t have known that V2 Schneider was eagerly expecting the kick-off of Bob Dylan’s spring tour later that night in Rio de Janeiro—constantly thinking about the patterns of set-lists and how even the slightest changes can mean the world to caring audiences. Just ask any deadhead.
His mind swimming with ideas, Schneider took the Q Train to Queens to meet the inimitable François K at PS1. At the entrance of the museum, he bumped into Klaus Biesenbach, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Ralf Hütter—the latter wearing his black pants 1940’s style, like Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo. As it turned out, Hütter had chosen this sunny afternoon to do a joint DJ set together with François K inside the Kraftwerk exhibit’s “Performance Dome”. Hell, this was inspiring. To the matching beats of Kraftwerk’s ‘Numbers’ (manipulated by Kevorkian on laptop), Hütter played melancholic melodies on both a Mini Moog and Korg MS20 and even sang live—his voice treated by a heavy vocoder effect. The crowd went berserk as K mixed Afrika Bambaataa, Kraftwerk and various obscure electro grooves into a single pulsing entity.
Unfortunately for Schneider, a planned interview with François K didn’t take place. Schneider wanted to discuss K’s influence on the mixing of Kraftwerk’s Techno Pop (originally Electric Café) in 1986, but Kevorkian, when asked, simply replied: “I haven’t slept for three days. Please forgive me. I need a bed.”
Later that evening, Schneider and Rainer Calmund went to the MoMA to see Techno Pop live. In light of the fact that the medley ‘Boing Boom Tschak/Techno Pop/Musique Non-Stop’ had been the climax during every single one of the Kraftwerk’s previous shows, both Schneider and Calmund were expecting nothing less than the outstanding. One word about Techno Pop: The album is sparse when it comes to melodies, but this actually is its greatest asset. On the A-side, Kraftwerk had begun experimenting with songs that are rhythmically in-synch, helping to introduce the dawn of a new DJ culture where one beat had to match the next. But this didn’t spare the band from being critiqued for the album’s lack of melody and subjective lyrics when it appeared in the mid-eighties.
While Calmund curiously left the MoMA before the set had even started, Schneider managed to witness the best Kraftwerk show of the retrospective so far. In his gut he could feel the group’s desire to rewrite history. During ‘The Robots’ Ralf Hütter even did the robot – only slightly, but nonetheless.
After the show, Schneider once again found himself on the rooftop terrace of Rockefeller Center, this time surrounded by a swarm of small birds whose chirping seemed to strangely increase the strength of his Wi-Fi signal.
In Rio de Janeiro, Dylan had just finished the first concert of his South American tour. The set-list on his iPhone read as follows:
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
It Ain’t Me, Babe
Things Have Changed
Tangled Up In Blue
The Levee’s Gonna Break
Tryin’ to Get to Heaven
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
Simple Twist of Fate
Highway 61 Revisited
Thunder on the Mountain
Ballad of a Thin Man
Like a Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower
And then: linguine with salmon, ginger and green pepper in the loft on Grand Street.
Published April 22, 2012.