PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Rammstein: 10 May 2011 - Allstate Arena, Chicago

Selena Fragassi

Rammstein "do their own thing and overdo it" in Chicago.

Rammstein

Rammstein

City: Chicago
Venue: Allstate Arena
Date: 2011-05-11

A birthday finale at the end of a concert is pretty routine — when you’re crammed into a bus eleven months out of the year, a “happy birthday” sing-a-long is probably the best a touring musician is gonna do. But at a Rammstein show, you’d figure the traditional celebrations would be left to commoners; lit birthday candles are mere child’s play compared to the G.I. Joe fireworks and dazzling pyrotechnics that notoriously dominate a performance from the German nu metal industrialists.

Not to be outdone, birthday honoree and drummer Christoph “Doom” Schneider threw his champagne glass to the ground, marking a blazing end to an incredible hour-plus performance that included in no short order: LED-lit clown masks, chainsaws, simulated sex play, steam explosions, fireworks, rifles, sequin jumpsuits, gasoline, laserlights, falling baby dolls, treadmills, an inflatable boat, red cannons and soapy confetti, and FIRE.

With rings of green flames to combustible mouthpieces to boomerang lines of fire that ricocheted over the heads of the audience from towers onstage and behind the sound booth, it’s no wonder that fans have tagged the band with “other bands play, Rammstein burns!”. To even think what the insurance rider would be on a Rammstein show… But to get a tangible idea of the massive setup, fans pointed out the 18 semi trucks lined in the parking lot. Those same fans left the Allstate Arena on cloud nine having witnesses a show that could marvel the deepest recesses of Dante’s ninth circle.

Rammstein pride themselves on being showstoppers. Possibly even heart stoppers - as the Gestapo-looking line of medic and peace officers circulating the outside corridors would have you believe. What could be seen by novices as a horror show is actually just the perfection of the craft of suspense and indulgence. For a band that sings predominantly in their native German tongue, it is an unfathomable feat to be able to sway the attention of their English speaking audiences for 90 minutes. With no subtitles, the only context in a Rammstein show is derived from the maniacal stage antics and gestures, and to turn away even for 30 seconds would be a great pity to fully appreciating the whole package.

From their inception in 1994, Rammstein (named for the famed German airbase and site of the second deadliest airshow disaster in history) is one of the few bands who can claim retention of their original lineup: vocalist Till Lindemann, lead guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe, rhythm guitarist Paul H. Landers, bassist Oliver Riedel, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz, and aforementioned drummer Schneider. In total, they’ve sold over 15 million records worldwide with their popularity crossing over American borders when Trent Reznor chose two songs, “Heirate mich” and the eponymous track for inclusion on the soundtrack to David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Shortly after, the sextet began a national trek with Korn on the 1998 Family Values tour only to then find themselves in the midst of a scandal as the band was booked on an indecency charge for a simulated sodomy act in Massachusetts — perhaps one of the reasons the band has not returned to the states in nearly 10 years.

After a one-off show at Madison Square Garden in December 2010 sold-out in nearly 15 minutes, the band added more dates including this Chicago stop to the delight of hardcore devotees. In the 10 years that have passed, Rammstein have only pushed the limits of their show even farther, Lindemann is now a licensed pyrotechnician and more composed sentimentalist whose thundering baritone is as deep as the thought put behind the execution of his lyrics. In one of the evening’s more subtle yet equally evocative moments, Lindemann bent down over an antique Victrola lit by an accented living room lamp and serenaded the audience against a Metropolis-utopian background that bemoaned the cresting downfall of modern man. Rammstein’s songs, although foreign in tongue, all express formed opinions on real-time events such as the Iraq War, America’s superfluous consumption, and the vast history of Eastern Europe.

As this performance proved, there is hardly another living band that puts on a more thrilling performance without toeing the line of ridiculousness. From the opening sequence of “Rammstein” where the sextet literally claws their way on stage to the final moments of “Engel”, which features Lindemann bearing inflamed angel wings before poetically receding into a deep downstairs cavern, Rammstein proved there is much more than birthdays to celebrate, but rather a second coming that is even greater than the first.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.