Lollapalooza is in Chicago this weekend, and that got us thinking: Which 20th century rock band is most Miesian?
We’d say Kraftwerk, and here’s why.
1. They’re from Germany too.
2. They pioneered electronic music and Mies pioneered modern architecture—products of the mid-century that are undeniably influential.
3. The aesthetic of Kraftwerk and Mies relies on deliberate minimalist approaches.
So, before the 41-year-old band officially retires, we propose they play S. R. Crown Hall. Think about it: What better venue for the sparse but engaging quality of Kraftwerk’s music than this simple but magnificent Mies landmark? Somehow, we need to let Kraftwerk know about this opportunity.
The founders Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider (who left the band a few years ago) are famously elusive. And those who know where Kraftwerk’s studio is located in Düsseldorf, Germany are protective of its location. It’s been a challenge to get their attention.
While we didn’t sneak off to Düsseldorf (we need those Mies Society funds to restore his buildings here at IIT!), we did spend significant time trying to contact the band, and we’re one of many to fail. (Read this amusing British journalist’s account of his pursuit.)
Our close call came when Jim DeRogatis, Chicago-based pop music critic, gave us the phone and fax numbers to their studio. He suggested we try fax first—Kraftwerk does have a fondness for machines.
After drafting the perfect cover letter and invitation and translating it to German, we sent the fax with great anticipation, picturing Ralf pulling it off a pile of papers on a concrete floor following a night at the bar. But as far as we know, that didn’t happen. We received no response.
Whether the failed connection was the product of our fax machines’ limitations or a wrong number, it was disappointing. The phone number didn’t go through, and we were left to attend a Kraftwerk Crown Hall concert only in our imaginations. In there, at least, it looks REALLY cool. And the sound? Suberb.
So, Ralf Hütter, if you’re out there, consider S. R. Crown Hall as a venue. Take a look at pictures of it online. Visit Chicago. The Mies Society fax number is (country code) 312.567.5001.
PHOTO: The Man Machine album cover, 1978, Kraftwerk
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