Sydney plugs-in Kraftwerk to jolt visitor numbers

Julian Bajkowski

Sydney’s cutting-edge Vivid festival has dived headlong into electronic retro-futurism after the New South Wales government revealed German synthesiser pioneers Kraftwerk will be the headline music act.

Described a the biggest “festival of light, music and ideas” in the southern hemisphere, the 18-day multimedia extravaganza is best known for pulling big crowds of international tourists, technorati and local families to the harbour city through its combination of quirky events topped with landmark buildings being transformed into near hallucinogenic apparitions by massive digital projectors.

After years of being attacked by the local tabloid press, shock jocks and various wowsers as a waste of money, the overtly edgy festival has confounded its critics by continuing to draw increasing visitor numbers at a time of economic downturn across the world.

Its success comes as larger, more mainstream and culturally ‘safe’ events struggle to maintain the interest of increasingly discerning tourists who demand more than the standard catalogue of Australiana.

Kraftwerk’s performances at Vivid are in keeping with the festival’s generally uncompromising attitude and the artists have secured the Sydney Opera House for a slew of gigs.

The proto-elektroids will play a purist eight shows of their studio albums “in full and appear in order of their release — Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981), Techno Pop (1986), The Mix (1991) and Tour de France (2003) — alongside additional compositions from their back-catalogue,” Vivid’s publicity flyer says.

Similar Kraftwerk events in have proved so popular that the Vivid has opted to allocate tickets through a ballot rather than the usual first-come, first-serve basis that has seen unscrupulous scalpers attempt to profiteer from popular events.

If Sydney’s tourism chiefs are not yet in sync with Kraftwerk’s often lengthy digital melodies, they were not showing it.  

“Vivid Sydney continues to attract the world’s most outstanding talent, with German legends Kraftwerk set to perform at the Opera House fresh on the back of performances at the MoMA in New York and TATE Modern in London,” NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner.

Destination NSW chief executive, Sandra Chipchase said that “in 2012 rising audience numbers demonstrated the events appealed with Sydneysiders as well as interstate and international visitors alike.”

“Vivid Sydney provides a truly global canvas and audience for our artistic, creative and business communities. The evolving 2013 program will be our most exciting to date,” Ms Chipchase said.

Talking-up the event’s longstanding sustainability stance was left to Vivid’s “Creative Adviser” and former Jimmy and the Boys frontman, Ignatius Jones.

Mr Jones vowed that the festival would “continue to lead the world in sustainable, carbon-neutral programming—a principle which has always been a founding tenet of Vivid Sydney."

Kraftwerk ballot applications are available at:


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