Friday Night: Rammstein at Toyota Center
See pics from Rammstein's fire-fueled concert in our slideshow.
When the house lights came up at the end of Friday night's Rammstein show, the crowd headed toward the exits and the custodial crew of the Toyota Center hit the floor. Mops in hand, they began the process of cleaning up the mass of sweat, foam and confetti that covered the arena floor.
It was the type of scene that wouldn't feel out of place in the aftermath of a LMFAO or Ke$ha concert, but the crowd that arrived at the venue hours earlier weren't there to party rock or get sleezy.
While the show may have featured the pyrotechnics, choreographed moves, costume changes and S&M overtones that pop up in so many of today's pop-star tours, Rammstein's was way louder and certainly more metal.
Ende der Straße* (End of the Road): After 20 dates in just over a month, Rammstein ended their "Made in Germany 1995-2011" tour with their first show in Houston in roughly forever. For longtime fans of the band who missed the chance to see the group circa the Mutter touring cycle of 2002, it was the reward for their loyalty and passion. For those fans' significant others and friends, it was the chance to see a lot of fire and explosions.
When it comes to spectacle, you really only have two options -- you can build up to one giant moment or you can go balls-to-the-wall and have something exciting/explosive with every song.
Rammstein falls into that latter category. Almost every song had a prop associated with it, in addition to the ever-changing lighting configuration. There were multiple backdrops, fake blood, a set on a mini stage in the back of the arena, and a keyboardist floating above the Sea of General Admission on an inflatable raft.
There was also a giant, foam-spewing penis, but more on that later.
Eröffnungsfeier (Opening Ceremony): To set the stage for their set, the band took the nontraditional route of having a DJ instead of a band for the opening act. Joe Letz of Combichrist took things in an even more unusual direction by doing a set made up exclusively of Rammstein remixes.
It's one of those things that sound goofy on paper, but was surprisingly effective in practice, to a point. In a way it made sense: Crowds rarely show up to see the opening act anyway, so give them something familiar early to get the energy up for the main set.
Things went south slightly once Letz picked up a microphone to encourage the audience to cheer more in a segment that went on a bit too long. Still, it's easy to forgive that part of the show because the remixes he did were good, including a version of "Du Hast" (You Have) with a brostep chorus that was quite nice.
Once Letz exited the stage, a bridge straight out of a steampunk lover's dream descended from the rafters. It was the setup for the most theatrical part of the night: the band's arrival to the arena.
They came down the stairs in one of the sections of the lower bowl, single file, led by bassist Ollie Riedel, who was carrying their version of an Olympic torch. Other members of the group carried the band's flag as well as the Texas flag. The introduction ended with the lighting of an even bigger torch onstage, which signaled the beginning of their set.