Wow, Paperhaus knocked it out of the park last night at U Street Music Hall.
The psych rock quartet were joined by Erik Sleight of Br’er and Stronger Sex to stage a performance of the Kraftwerk album Trans Europe Express. I had little to prepare my expecations for the experience, but it didn’t matter. Even if I had the highest of expectations, the band would have exceeded them easily!
First and foremost, of course, Paperhaus augmented their synthesizer arsenal. Alex Tebeleff, normally on guitar and vocals, dedicated himself to a synthesizer while Erik supplemented him. Eduardo Rivera took occasional synth duties in addition to his guitar and backing vocals.
After a brief introduction, the band ably leapt into the first track, Europe Endless, and they sounded great! Alex enunciated his words in such a way as to lend them a Kraftwerkesque aura, while Eduardo occasionally sang into a vocoder.
For the second track, The Hall of Mirrors, the band enlisted the assistance of Sebastian Rousseau, who performed an interpretive dance to the song. Rousseau was particularly emotive for the refrain, “Even the greatest stars dislike themselves in the looking glass,” and it was the sort of thing were wholehearted dedication really paid off.
I see Rousseau noted a complaint about the performance on his Facebook page:
Dear White-Collar, D.C. Hipsters: The next time a performing artist at a venue who is slated to “dance” – and clearly has absolutely no room on stage – jumps down into the same space in which you’re apathetically standing , and begins to perform vigorous, sweeping movements: You back the fuck up and make a circle!!!
All in all, Rousseau’s performance was rather unexpected and still quite stirring despite his space limitations.
Alex called for the room to dance for the third track, “Showroom Dummies,” and many complied. It’s worth noting that the free show drew enough of a crowd to fill at least half of U Hall, and many in attendance were clearly Kraftwerk fans who enjoyed what they saw. Someone in the audience enthusiastically shouted out the countdown “Eins Zwei Drei Vier!” (1, 2, 3, 4) that kicks off the song, and Paperhaus didn’t miss a beat.
Fourth track “Trans Europe Express” really gave everyone an opportunity to shine, especially drummer Danny Bentley, who relentlessly attacked the song with an energizing ferocity.
Paperhaus wrapped up their Kraftwerk performance with “Metal on Metal,” which of course completely won over the audience.
Generally, the Paperhaus performance of Kraftwerk was remarkably true to the source material while not being overtly slavish to it. The gents kept it loose and comfortable, putting themselves into the show, and it paid off. Bravo!
Watch Kraftwerk themselves perform the title track of Trans Europe Express below: