Tuesday, April 8, 2014
"You could use a long, long, long holiday."
Space Pirate Radio has the unsung honour of being the first radio program on commercial air to play German group Kraftwerk. The first 2 LPs followed by Ralf and Florian and then Autobahn. All import albums. When Autobahn was released in the U.S. on Vertigo, my fellow DJs thought I was nuts to love this album. But then it became a success. Wundebar!
Like countless other bands heard on Space Pirate Radio, I played them in abundance but never went to any early concerts stateside. I've seen a goodly amount of artists, obscure and/or recognizable, in the Seventies and Eighties, but the list of those I did not is sizable and (in an alternate universe) regrettable. But then my wife entered the picture...
The Little One is addicted to the Concert Experience. No rehab on earth exists to cure this passion. Younger than the Wise One of the Wireless, she has nonetheless multiplied my concert total to the near infinite. When grumpy, I might claim that my list touts Quality Over Quantity, but I must, on occasion, admit a respect for events she has attended.
So Kraftwerk, we are agreed upon. Of course, I like to attend one performance and one performance ONLY these days, of any given artist. Not so with the little lady. Multiple performances is a marathon sport with her and I've adjusted my survival needs to this other side effect of her addiction.
Kraftwerk. We were talking Kraftwerk. The Mensch Maschinists. The Dusseldorf Meisters.
The endurance queen saw them before me, in 1998 at the Hollywood Palladium. Together, we saw them in San Francisco at the Warfield in 2004. A wonderful time. Then in 2005, we saw them again in Los Angeles at the Greek Theatre. I used to ask people to guess what my favourite recent concert was and what my least favourite was. The answer: Favourite. Kraftwerk, San Francisco. Least Favourite. Kraftwerk, Los Angeles. Not due to musical quality, but to audience attitude. San Francisco was an audience to see and hear the band. Los Angeles was an audience to see and hear themselves. An excuse to party, no matter who was performing. Lovers of electronic music were in the minority, surrounded by inebriates. The only feeling that I was watching a German band performing came in the Oktoberfest gathering of storm troopers. It was like a redneck scene out of Cabaret. I have not returned to the Greek Theatre.
So this reinforces two concepts of mine. Avoid outdoor venues if you can. And see a show in the Bay Area over Los Angeles if possible. The Fox Oakland fits these requirements.
Now the Little One plans on seeing all eight shows in Los Angeles at the Walt Disney Theatre. These include the concept performances of eight individual albums presented in their entirety, plus a best of second half. Two shows a day over four days. Getting tickets is like Rommel planning tank movements in the African desert. Seeing all eight seems impossible to secure, so Oakland announced for three nights becomes a backup. She gets two days at Disney in a row, both shows each day. I will sit these out, but the old man is in for one night of two in Oakland (which will ultimately be all three, 'cause how can I deny her?). This will be like the Warfield shows in San Francisco, where we attended the first night together. A successful test run, she would do their second night solo, while I relaxed in our suite in the Marina. So it will be in Oakland. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday performances. I will share Monday. She will compare the sandwich.
It's also a pleasurable experience not driving, but taking the Trans Europa Express to Compass Point North. Vienna is lovely this time of year, but so is Gilroy. Who needs the Swiss Alps when you have the Cuesta Grade?
It wasn't San Francisco, but discovering Oakland Downtown today was great fun. I don't travel as much as I did (though the last six months has been more than three years), but if I do, I like a nice environment. Staying in a David Lynch suicide motel, just to save twenty dollars is not for me at this stage of my life. Give me a suite with a view that isn't the parking lot. We stayed Downtown, pulpishly elbowed in Chinatown. One BART stop away from the theatre. Nice restaurants on each block. "This is the life, eh Moriarty?"
And Kraftwerk? That Bay Area magic still prevailed. The Fox Oakland is a beautiful theatre. Like the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara now. Refurbished in reds and gold of antiquity, though more pagan and Eastern than the Moorish Spain of the Hotel Granada. The Phantom and his Bride were up in the highest corner of the Stage Right balcony and Erik enjoyed it immensely.
I'd tell you more, but it loses something if you can't hear my Rick Steves impression.