It's hitting home. Too Claustrophobic For Comfort. So when the Poles shift; there's seismic action under your tap shoes...The Yin Yang becomes the Kling Klang: We're heading off for the Rock Show. Or in the Amon Duality of it all, the TWO Rock Shows. It's a Deja View. How does one fight off this malaise?
By going to the Rock Show. May-December, Young and Old. In a Romantic Interlude. Harold and Maudlin.
We are migrating South to see KRAFTWERK. 2 Times 2. First, it's off to San Diego. A new venue for the Little Lady and me: The Balboa Theatre.
A pattern has revealed itself, but with new variations. My Muse and I love KRAFTWERK. I am proud to say that SPACE PIRATE RADIO was the first commercial radio station to play the Work of Kraft (without the cheese...Louise!) in January 1974. Despite that boast, the Beloved Little Lady has ACTUALLY seen Ralf Hutter and the boys, perhaps three times more than me.
If one scrolls or scrawls back to the collected Arcana that is the tower of candles melting, a post praises the KRAFTWERK experiences of San Francisco and Oakland, and bemoans the SoCal misery of the outdoor concert. As mentioned previously, when asked at a certain time what were my favourite and least favourite concert experiences, I replied: BEST: KRAFTWERK, San Francisco, the Warfield Theatre. The Worst: KRAFTWERK, Los Angeles, the Greek Theatre.
Why is this?
The reason appears to me to be Indoor versus Outdoor. The serious music lover wishes to be involved in the enclosed event. Outside is social event, a picnic, a party. A Festival. It really doesn't matter who or what is playing. The music is the soundtrack to the Happening. The Audience is the Headliner. The Massed Ensemble are there to be watched. The Artists are secondary. The Fourth Wall is reversed.
And so for KRAFTWERK, the earlier equation is repeated. Our last experience with the band was in Oakland, at the Fox Theatre. Three nights, but I opt out for my cranky man, low energy routine of seeing only one show. Only E has the Energy for the marathon music binges. And her secret life as a patient of Sacher-Masoch prepares her for the Ordeal to Come.
In Oakland, I take the Middle Path. Shows One and Three I avoid. But not today. For this pair of KRAFTWERK shows, I am now Sasha Mascot. I'm the Alchemist of Pain & Pleasure. I'm going for the Gold!
And why not? I'm a changed man. New experiences await. The first show is in San Diego. At a venue neither I nor my venue voyager has been to: The Balboa Theatre.
And the second show is on my fogging Birthday, for Krispies Sake! September 18th, a Sunday: the actual day of my early entrance. The place? The Hollywood Bowl. Let's Go! I'm pumped! I'm on Stereo Oids.
Yin Yang. Kling Klang. Indoor. Outdoor. Show me the Magick.
And it Manifests.
The Balboa is a doorway into another mindset. A theatre better prepared for vaudeville and Thurston. Actually a low key auditorium that stages travelling musicals; this is not your typical hall for Pixies or a Depeche Mode Tribute Band. Usually filled with Season Subscribers, it is, in fact, a treasure to savor an unexpected musical moment. Quite simply, this theatre, named after Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the First European to see the Pacific Ocean (how appropriate!) becomes possibly the here and now of the best KRAFTWERK performance we have ever experienced.
It is sublime. No yelps of inebriated concert goers, misplaced applause or disturbances to the performance. The acoustics are delicate to accentuated. There is room to breathe for the silent spaces. It is Blissful. It tops every show of the band I've seen. My batteries are recharged. I'm back in classic SPACE PIRATE RADIO mode. I'm inspired. And when I'm inspired, I ignore the Pods waiting for me to snooze.
As mentioned before, I've seen KRAFTWERK in concert 5 times total. My much younger wife has seen them actually 13 times. She loves sole founding member Ralf Hutter. I respect him enough that I would let her move to Dusseldorf with him. Now SPACE PIRATE RADIO was the first show to play KRAFTWERK on commercial U.S. radio. And in all the years of the show, with all the musical heroes I've met, I and the wife have never met Ralf. That must change.
And it did.
Thus making San Diego, this Southern Star of California, a place of new, surprising and cherished memories.
And now on the flipside of our platter...
"You say it's your birthday." Usually frightened of flipping the odometer, I decide to celebrate an ominous numerological event by doing a second KRAFTWERK show in an open arena. The Hollywood Bowl or Bowel if I feel the need for a cheap shot. Actually, I don't hate the Hollywood Bowl like I truly hate the Greek Theatre. The last time I was at the Bowl was for Monty Python. Yes, the filmed concert of Monty Python at the etc. etc. I am actually in the film, with excellent seats, sitting with my girlfriend at the time, Sue Dugan: actress, costumer and after TWILIGHT ZONE, THE MOVIE, the horrific triple death accident, nun. Besides seeing the Pythons in the flesh and unknowingly appearing in the film, the performance was memorable for sitting with Doctor Timothy Leary and talking about ASH RA TEMPEL and Manuel Gottsching.
But I digress...I'm here on the natal day for KRAFTWERK. "Are you coming to the Hollywood Bowl?" Ralf Hutter asks me and the wife in San Diego. "Of course," I reply. "It's my BIRTHDAY!"
And although the hot day turns into a comfortable evening, none of the subtlety of the San Diego performance is in evidence here. A group of musicians performing classical interpretations of KRAFTWERK songs fails to soothe the outdoor party crowd. No Balanescu Quartet here (look it up), though they do their best at winning over an unsophisticated crowd. KCRW's Jason Bentley tries to win over the crowd in schtick I gave up years ago broadcasting at openings of Radio Shack in Carpinteria or Ellwood Beach. I Marcel Marceau a gagging projectile hurl to E, returning to my seat. I'm jealous, of course. Why isn't SPACE PIRATE RADIO on KCRW, instead of Morning Becomes Erectile Dysfunction? Something should be done. :)X.
Instead of the ambient intro in semi-darkness in San Diego, the Bowl large screen monitors tout the wisdom of credit card purchasing power. Inebriated old friends meet to discuss short term encounters. People choose open chairs at random. Views are blocked. Vaping is the cool thing to do, even though it lacks any of the Eastern Exoticism of a B made Turhan Bey and Maria Montez film.
The Bowl has a lovely vibe in its location. Voted by the LA Weekly as the Best Concert venue. This would be true if music wasn't involved. The show had major mistakes. Another crashing defeat for the Outside. Oh, well. I took it in my stride. Good Spirits prevailed. The best thing about the show was the large screen, showing the Winston Smiths how cool the show would be if you were a half mile closer to the stage. Unfortunately, the screen changes the colour of the actual staging. A perpetual Kinda Blue permeates the transmission.
We will always have San Diego.