Another Tuesday night, another absolutely stellar performance in Chicago at Concord Music Hall. The past week was full of rain and wind, and leading up to Paul Kalkbrenner’s headlining set, the weather was just as angry as the days prior. When I arrived at the venue there was a slight break in the downpour, and it turned out to be a bit of an omen for what was about to happen. It seemed like the heavens were opening, and out came Paul Kalkbrenner to grace us with his talents.
Concord was packed as soon as I arrived with everyone enjoying the excellent music from Portals & Parachutes. I love seeing live sets, and having both the opener and headliner playing live is always a special treat.
As I was dancing along with the crowd, I was reminded that even with how much music I already consume, there is always more amazing stuff out there.
This show ended up being a very strong reminder of that notion, and since there were so many people here I figured I would do some recon to see just what was bringing everyone out in such numbers.
For every person I asked, I consistently heard the same thing about the reason they came out: “We are here to see a legend”, and I’m not joking when I say it was repeated to me time and time again. With every answer, the realization of just who and what we were seeing started to dawn on me.
Paul Kalkbrenner has been in the game for a long time, and during his career, he has created a bit of a cult following all across the world.
There is a movie written about his life: Berlin Calling (starring Paul Kalkbrenner), which helps to give you a bit of a look into who he is. But where you really get the best impression is seeing him live, and I can confidently say that these people were right: he is indeed a legend.
I was completely unaware of who Paul Kalkbrenner was prior to attending the show, and I had no idea what to expect. And even if I had known what to expect, I still would have been completely blown away by the music coming out of this man. His dark basslines were punctuated with haunting vocals, spooky one-offs, and perfectly crafted chords of all flavors.
There was hardly a break in the action between his seamless transitions, but whenever the basslines stopped thumping there was one of those vocals sneaking through to grab you. It was one of those sets where the music just took you away to what seems like not only another time, but another place as well.
One consistent theme among all of my musical heroes is the fact that they make each and every set feel important. It should feel as if you’re witnessing something profoundly special, and any words would fall short of telling someone what they were missing.
To use one of my favorite cliches: you just had to be there, and Paul Kalkbrenner’s show was absolutely one of those times.
But that Tuesday night performance went far beyond simply being an important set. It truly was a transcendental experience and gave me a sense of wonder I haven’t felt since my first few shows in the rave scene. Even writing this now, I’m still feeling the goosebumps and elation from that night.
Paul Kalkbrenner at Concord Music Hall was legitimately one of the best nights of music I’ve ever experienced, and I have to thank the folks at Concord for providing such a great stage for him to do his thing. I’ll never forget the set or the setting for this musical trip he took us all on, and I have a feeling I’ll be hopping on a plane here soon to see him again. If you have the chance to go check him out, I would highly recommend doing so….you’ll thank me later.
Author: Andrew Ploeger // Photos: Georgia Modi