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I ascended to my seat high in the rafters, pausing to note some of the food and merchandise prices. $35 for a t-shirt, $8.50 for a beer. $10 for a poster and $1 for a cup of cheese whiz seemed to be the best deals. But the poster was ugly so I purchased my cup of cheese whiz and sat down. I still had about an hour to go before the show, but I like to show up to these things early and get a feel for the crowd. They were mostly college-aged or younger, people that were barely born when Rammstein first started (1994, the year I entered high school). The people were dressed mostly in black, as was I, with crazy hair and beards (men and women!) and piercings. I’d venture to say I “fit in” with these Rammstein fans, but on the conservative fringe.
It was the greatest rock show I’ve ever been to, and if Rammstein comes back to my area, I’ll see them again and again.
Slowly the people filled in. As is usually the case, I ended up with a tall, jerky dude directly in my line of vision, who kept darting his head around like some sort of rabbit on acid. A broad-shouldered teen with angled baseball cap sat on my left, occasionally nudging into me, but to his credit he didn’t utter a word during the entire show. An angular, long-haired, pot smoking redneck hippie who I initially mistook for a very ugly woman sat on my right, chuckling and muttering to his friend in between rocking out. And a girl in front of the tall jerky dude kept shoving her camera high into the air and taking still pictures of the band.
The show started around 8:00 with the warm-up act, Combichrist. I had never heard of them before. They had two percussionists banging away crazily on various drums, which seemed a little excessive, a screamy-type singer, and strobe lights which made me count my blessings that seizures aren’t one of my many genetic defects. The band played a 30-minute set, and I have to say they were pretty good. I missed *seeing* most of the first two songs, because tall jerky dude and his friend were the only ones in the entire upper level standing during the first ten minutes. Finally they got tired and sat their punk asses down.
Another half hour passed as Combichrist’s equipment was removed from the stage. More people straggled in until the arena was nearly full. The floor (standing room) was only ¾ full. The seating areas looked filled, obviously except for the blocked-out areas behind the stage. Supposedly the arena was sold-out, but I checked Ticketbastard the morning of the show and single seats were still available. AllState Arena is a rather small venue, it has pretty good acoustics but is rather an insulting venue for Rammstein to play, considering they sell-out vast Olympic-sized stadiums in Europe. Welcome back to America, guys!
Finally the show started. Rammstein always makes a radical entrance. Two of the guys bashed through a wall, while lead singer Till Lindemann seemingly used a torch to cut through iron. The set itself constantly changed throughout the show. Call me a yokel but I don’t know how set designers manage it. The lighting alone was amazing.
The music was, of course, awesome. Rammstein is a German band and so most of their lyrics are in German. True fans like myself memorize the songs and their translation so the language doesn’t matter. It’s comparable to listening to a singer like Mick Jagger. You can’t really tell what he’s saying, but you know anyway. In Rammstein’s case, it’s also rather interesting that the greatest rock group of all time would come from East Germany.
They played most of the songs a US fan would expect them to after a 10 year absence. Benzin, Links 2-3-4, Du Hast, Ich Will, Engel. It was, as they say, all thriller and no filler. In addition to the music, Rammstein puts on a pyrotechnic show. I thought they would tone this down for regulation-happy America, but apparently not. Till had his flamethrowers going all-out, and we could even feel the heat up in the rafters. This spectacle just adds to the awesome factor of the show, but their music is so good that they don‘t really NEED it.
There was also a lot of funny interaction between Till, the “dominant” figure, and keyboardist Flake Lorenz, who plays a “submissive” misfit role. Flake winds up getting incinerated in a bath tub, only to emerge in a sparkling suit, then set on a treadmill that he has to walk on at an increasingly fast pace, while playing his keyboards. He also does a spastic dance and surfs the crowd in an inflatable raft, an old Rammstein gimmick.
Rammstein May 10, 2011 Concert Review continues...