The opportunity to see an electronic act that can be accredited as being the very creators of the sound that has developed into modern-day dance music, in the place that has embraced that music more than anywhere else, was too good to miss. The plan had been to go and see the entire six hour show – Seth Troxler was opening and he was playing at my first ever Cocoon night so that was a nice bit of circularity. Unfortunately, that was not to be. The worst September weather I can remember, saw torrential rain giving way to windy overcast skies; not the perfect start for an outdoor party. As such I waited until the skies looked a bit more promising before heading to Ushuaia.
We can debate the place Ushuaia has in the push towards a new direction on the island, but its a very well run venue and from a punters point of view, a slick operation. The staff are excellent and very helpful, whether it’s helping slightly confused chaps from going into the wrong toilet, chasing after an errant €5 note when the wind blew it from the change tray, or handing my wife 3D glasses at the start of the Kraftwerks set because she wasn’t wearing any, it was top marks all round. Having been to a few nostalgia/super gigs (most notably Clockwork Orange) recently and expecting an older audience, I have been surprised how these gigs attract a younger crowd, than just those who listened to their parent’s record collection. Kraftwerk-Cocoon had an older (significantly in some cases) element but it was still mixed and all the better for it. No sooner had we settled in for a Sven Vath set, the heavens truly opened and the party moved to the back bar out of necessity but the weather didn’t dampen the party spirit of the assembled Cocoonistas.
Sven Vath reached into his big bag of bangers and kept the cold and wet party goers wrapt, dropping a personal favorite, “The Drill” just after the storm started in earnest. So much so that when the bar lights were switched on, the crowd booed. The atmosphere was electric. Fifteen minutes before the end of the set, the rain eased and then more or less stopped, almost as if the music gods had recognised the importance of the impending performance. Then occurred the only real weather related technical issue; a 15 minute break in proceedings for an understandable equipment check, after all water and electricity are not the best bedfellows. Kraftwerk appeared on stage dressed in Lycra Tron suits, so that they interacted with the visual show behind them. The set opened and foolishly I expected those who had only been there for the Cocoon set would disappear but no, the damp crowd stayed put, almost resolutely, the 3D visuals mixed with the best experimental electronic music saw to that.
After the opener it was into “Communication”. The band look more like pilots of an interplanetary space craft than a band. As time wore on, the elements and maybe false expectations started to thin the crowd a little; maybe they thought that four middle-aged German blokes messing around with electronics wasn’t that exciting – they were wrong! I’m of an age to remember their music from the 80’s, I was very young then and may be slightly biased, but comparing the band’s music to the modern day techno of the Sven Vath set that preceded it, it was still relevant. Back to the set and during the track, Space Lab, a UFO flew from the screen; that went down well. Then the first big hit, “The Model” and the crowd went wild. Segued nicely into “Autobahn” and I’m in nostalgia heaven. The visual show stepped up a gear with a sat-nav style 3D display.
After a quick comfort break (watching a couple of girls trying to dry Converse in a Dyson hand dryer added to the experience) I emerged to the sounds of “Tour de France” and the visual show kicked up yet another gear. One of my favourites, the track is a long and in parts rambling epic, that takes the audience on a journey from nostalgic tour de force through modernistic techno-esque dance beats, to a spectacular close- the biggest cheer of the night so far. Straight into “Trans Europe Express”. This writer is now in his happy place.
The largest cheer of the party is for the final track “Boom Boom Tschak” complemented by flying clefs and music notes made real by the impressive 3D effects. Then one by one, the band leave the stage and it’s over. No encore but none is necessary. What a night! Reflecting on what’s just happened, it doesn’t matter how you view this gig; old blokes wearing Lycra on a stage, 3D extravagance or nostalgic throwback. This was very, very special! This was the genesis of what we all love revisited and played out before an appreciative audience.
Words by Paul Foster.