Rammstein At The AT&T Center
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By Jamie Harvey
I'm singing in a language I don't understand. My face feels the warmth of fire and the faint scent of something burning wafts through the air as a large man in leather with a ball in his mouth crawls down a catwalk high above the crowd. I am at the show to see: Rammstein.
Rammstein came into my life in the late '90s — an industrial metal band that sang almost completely in German but with catchy riffs and music that made them impossible not to like if you were into that kind of metal. They were controversial but with this interesting streak of humor that said they never took themselves too seriously. Their live shows were a thing of legend; Rammstein might mean "fire" in German because the band uses so much pyrotechnics in their shows. However, for years they remained an enigma in the United States. Finally, in late 2010 that all changed, and on May 24 I found myself at my third Rammstein show.
I've sent everyone that would listen to see Rammstein. I don't care if you don't even like metal, no one walks away from this show disappointed. It is the biggest spectacle out there; yes, even bigger than Roger Waters' The Wall Live, in my opinion.
The show began with a catwalk lowering from the ceiling of the AT&T Center, home to the San Antonio Spurs. The German act appeared on the first tier of the arena and walked out toward the center of the floor carrying Texas and German flags. They walked across the catwalk to the stage and launched into "Sonne." "Eins, zwei, drei" ("One, two, three") — the first song exercised the extent of my German.
Led by the intimidatingly charismatic Till Lindemann, they moved into "Wollt Ihr Das Bett In FlammenSehen?" as the fire and explosions whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Guitarists Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers were shredding on each corner of the stage — one with a microphone that was magically lowered onto the stage for background vocals, and the other with a mic on a pendulum that was stepped on to be delivered back up from laying prone onstage. The crowd chanted the band's name, which appeared frequently in their songs; otherwise it was a sea of harsh consonants and umlauts.
"Asche Zu Asche" had us all marching in place, and "Feuer Frei" had the band launching fire from devices strapped to them as they played. It's amazing that beyond being skilled musicians, the band can pull off dangerous stunt acts throughout their show. "Mutter" had Lindemann bathed in sparks, and the GRAMMY-nominated "Mein Teil" had the treadmill-walking, sparkle jumpsuit-wearing keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz seemingly cooked alive by Lindemann, who was sporting a murderous butcher ensemble.
The GRAMMY-nominated "Du Hast" — the song that initially helped project Rammstein into the consciousness of America — had the crowd chanting as one. Then, Rammstein played with all the space they were given in the arena and crossed the catwalk to a small stage in the middle, which featured four members on their knees crawling in bondage gear led by the drummer, Christoph "Doom" Schneider, in women's clothing. Rammstein enjoy playing with sexual boundaries, and I'm sure that as they played "Mann Gegen Mann" on that tiny stage, it was the most controversial thing many of these Texans had ever seen.
Back on the main stage, they finished with beautiful flaming wings for "Engel" and "Pussy," the latter being the one almost entirely English song that featured Lindemann riding a giant flesh-colored cannon that spewed foam on the crowd.
I watched the crowd as the show ended, a mixture of post-concert bliss mixed with the satisfaction of an action film, a video game and the circus all wrapped in one. Rammstein, du hast mich.
"Wollt Ihr Das Bett In FlammenSehen?"
"Asche Zu Asche"
"Du Riechst So Gut"
"Links 2, 3, 4"
"Mann Gegen Mann"
"Mein Herz Brennt"
(Jamie Harvey splits her time between California and Texas, and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has been to more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures and concert recaps at www.hardrockchick.com.)