Next week, German electronic-music pioneers Kraftwerk will perform eight of their albums in their entirety, from 1974's Autobahn through 2003's Tour de France, at New York City's Museum of Modern Art. The album that spawned the closest thing duo had to a "pop hit," the title track of 1977's Trans-Europe Express (famously sampled by hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa on "Planet Rock") falls next Friday, April 13. Ha.
These are hot tickets; all eight nights have sold out. Rocks Off has no idea what the secondary-ticket market is for a MOMA show, but we're guessing it's pretty steep. The performances will be held in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, which you can get a look at here and seems like maybe the best place to watch a show ever. Especially Kraftwerk.
Rocks Off isn't holding out much hope of Kraftwerk ever repeating these performances in Houston, even one, but our museums are nothing to sneeze at. We couldn't find where Houston ranks among the nation's big cities, but it must be up there; the amount, diversity and quality of our museums has long been one of the major ways the city uses to sell itself.
Houston museums do double as live-music venues on occasion. Last December, Jandek played a solo show in the foyer of the Menil Collection, and a few years ago the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston used to host a Starbucks Concert Series that was about the only place mid-size indie artists like Austin's Voxtrot could play in the days before Pegstar took over Fitzgerald's.
In his kid-friendly AndyRoo persona, local musician Andrew Karnavas has played the Children's Museum of Houston several times. "Live music at a museum is a great idea, and I think that in non-traditional live performance spaces it's an even better idea," he says. "But you need a good team of people to do it right."
So if we can't go see Kraftwerk in New York, here are five artists (well, six) we would like to see make use of five excellent Houston museums.
5. MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON 1001 Bissonnet, www.mfah.org
Muse: Muse is a little young to be considered a Great Master, but the British trio that incorporates art-rock and classical influences into a stadium sound is well on their way. Rocks Off has visions of watching them in the supermassive great hall in the Caroline Wiess Law building, and we bet one of the MFA's deep-pocketed donors would even spring for Muse's spaceship-worthy light show.
4. HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE 5555 Hermann Park Dr., www.hmns.org
Mastodon: The bone-rattling Georgia band, which mixes progressive metal with a slight hint of Southern boogie-rock, would be a perfect band to serenade HMNS' resident Mammut americanum. After you get sweaty moshing to Mastodon, stay and relax at the planetarium for the late-night Dark Side of the Moon laser show, which has been around so long it may outlast the actual moon itself.
3. THE HEALTH MUSEUM John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, 1515 Hermann Dr., www.mhms.org
Clinic: Rocks Off has to confess that we have not visited the MHMS - yet - but it's been on our to-do list for a long time, and we can't think of a better reason to get us through the door than a show by these Fall- and Wire-influenced weirdos who often perform wearing surgical scrubs. Amazingly, they've never broken in America (their last album was 2010's Bubblegum), and we're not sure if they've ever even been to Houston, so this place seems like as good a place as any.
2. CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF HOUSTON 1500 Binz, www.cmhouston.org
They Might Be Giants: Take it from Andrew Karnavas: The CMH has a 200-person auditorium and professional sound system, and "it's a very easy place to perform." Even before they started releasing actual children's albums like 2005's Here Come the ABCs, a show from the madcap, whip-smart Brooklyn duo would be fun for all ages.
1. CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM 5216 Montrose Blvd., www.camh.org
B L A C K I E feat. Two Star Symphony: The CAMH often features mundane everyday objects presented as art; it once exhibited a bunch of stuff dredged up from the bowels (actually the attic) of beloved avant-garde Houston flea market/performance space Notsuoh. Although the museum's Steel Lounge Underground music series seems to be on hold for the moment, a revival pairing these two local artists - who push the boundaries of hip-hop/noise and classical music, respectively - would be just about perfect.
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