Kraftwerk in concert from 1997. In the late 60’s/early 70s when Germany was pioneering experimental music, labeled Krautrock as a sort of grab-bag description of anything with a German accent, Kraftwerk were one of the bands which crossed over into the Mainstream and in doing so, did much to promote the cause of what would eventually become Electronica and Techno – and provide the foundation for EDM to come along years later.
They have been considered pioneering by several critics, comparing their work and influence in the world of music akin to that of The Beatles. But to be dead-honest, there were other groups carrying the experimental/electronic torch a bit higher than they did at the time. Taking Tangerine Dream, or even Can who, although not considered Electronica at the time, embraced experimental music in a way that influenced many musicians over the years probably to a greater degree than Kraftwerk had. But I think much of it has to do with who you were exposed to at the time. If you had never heard electronic music or the experimental nature of what you were hearing, you might think they were the only ones doing it. But you would be wrong.
To say there was something kitsch about Kraftwerk seems obvious in the presentation, and the cool detachment they worked hard at achieving seemed more than a little self-conscious. But to single them out as prime innovators in the form is off the mark – they were the most easily recognizable of the crop of German groups and artists coming out in the early 1970s, but they were most definitely not the only ones, despite.
All that said, Kraftwerk were nonetheless a very popular and enduring entity in the evolving genre of Electronica and Experimental Music – and because of them, they created an audience who became devoted over the 5 decades of their existence so far.
With everything I run on this site, it’s my opinion and it is often challenged and called out. The nice thing about music is that it affects everyone differently. And a defining moment for one person may not seem like anything unusual to another.
If you aren’t familiar with Kraftwerk, here is what they were up to in 1997, some 21 years ago – it’s not the complete concert from the Tribal Gathering, but it’s a 20 minute extended excerpt of their live performance.