Witnessing the legendary industrial metal leviathan known as Rammstein in a live setting is a must for any fan that has followed the meteoric trajectory of this German sextet. Rammstein’s distinct sound and aesthetic made them the genre-defining titans of the Neue Deutsche Härte (NDH) movement in the mid-90s. Their explosive live performance is truly a spectacle to behold; a feast for the senses, both aural and visual. I caught Rammstein for the first time last year when they headlined the opening night of Chicago Open Air. It was their only US appearance in 2016. A year later, they once again conquer the Windy City, this time bringing their elaborate stage production and unrelenting musical precision to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.
Providing direct support on this date was Los Angeles-based, up-and-coming industrial group, 3TEETH. The band played a short, seven-song set comprised of choice cuts from their self-titled debut album and 2017’s <shutdown.exe> to a relatively thin crowd. Frontman Alexis Mincolla joked with the audience, stating that everyone had apparently not made it back from the hot dog stands yet.
As the sun began to set, the countdown to Rammstein began, displayed on the large overhead monitor screens on either side of the stage. The final 10 seconds were projected onto the large black curtain that covered the stage, before an explosive burst dropped the curtain, revealing the glowing red stage beyond. You can check out the setlist and running order of the songs below.
The first band members to appear were drummer Christoph “Doom” Schneider and keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz, as guitarists Paul Landers and Richard Zven Kruspe descend from the stage rafters on platforms outfitted with lighting and pyrotechnics. There is a brief pause as frontman Till Lindemann tap dances onto the stage and throws his top hat into the air as it bursts with sparks. A commanding presence on stage, Lindemann takes control of the reigns as the band crashes back into the opening song, “Ramm 4”. Continuing into the slower, grim march of “Reise, Reise”, followed by “Hallelujah”, the group continues to captivate the audience with their flawless performance and brilliant stage production.
With such an elaborate production, it is often too easy to overlook the music and focus only on the spectacular visual aesthetic the band brings to the stage. In a recent interview with Metal Hammer, guitarist Richard Kruspe reflects, “…to be honest, Rammstein was always one of those bands…the first thing that comes to mind was always the show and fire, and fire and show, and no one really talks about the music. And it really bugs me…”  However, my personal experience has always started with the music. The dual axe- slinging team of Kruspe and Landers continuously delivers some of the most memorable and head-banging riffs to ever be plucked from a six-string instrument, with a distinctive and articulated crunch attack. Personal highlights in this regard were “Keine Lust”, and “Ich Tu dir weh”, the latter saw the theatrical sacrificing of Flake, the submissive “gimp” being led to his slaughter by a leash around his neck. Lindemann places him in a tub and then proceeds to rain sparks down from above. All of this may, in fact, be a spectacle to witness; however, you cannot deny the groove this ensemble creates with their relentless and mesmerizing rhythms.
“To be honest, Rammstein was always one of those bands…the first thing that comes to mind was always the show and fire, and fire and show, and no one really talks about the music…” – Richard Kruspe 
The bouncing rhythm of “Du riechst so gut” from the 1995 debut album, Herzeleid, gets the crowd jumping and hearts pumping with Lindemann wielding a pyro-spewing bow and arrow. In stark contrast, the slow, solemn melancholy of “Seemann” begins with a minimalist mechanical beat from Flake. An obscene amount of fog pours over the stage, as bassist Ollie has a seat on the stage steps to pick the arpeggiated bass line. This gives Lindemann the sonic space to let his profound baritone melody ring out before Kruspe and Landers come crashing in with their dramatic power chord assault. Another personal favorite is the insanely catchy and driving march of “Links 2-3-4”, with its political undertones and anthemic chorus, it easily gets stuck in my head on repeat!
No Rammstein concert would be complete without the crowd favorite, “Feuer Frei!”, which had an elaborate pyro display including Lindemann, Kruspe, and Landers wearing flame-throwing masks. Later in the set, the crowd roared as the band launched into “Ich will”, followed by a sing-along to the breakout hit, “Du hast”. The main set ended with a curious rendition of “Stripped” by Depeche Mode, one of the few songs in the setlist that featured English lyrics.
After a very brief intermission, the band returned to perform three encore songs. First up was “Sonne”, with flames being thrown from multiple locations on the stage as the crowd joined Lindemann during the chorus, singing, “Hier Kommt die Sonne” (Here comes the Sun). Next was the popular anthem of cultural hegemony, “Amerika”, which featured more sing-along moments during the chorus, and a decadent amount of confetti being blasted out into the air as the stage was washed in red, white, and blue colors from the lighting displays. The final song, “Engel” from 1997’s Sehnsucht, is another favorite moment in the set for me, with Lindemann sporting giant flame-throwing angelic metal wings. It can’t be denied that visually Rammstein are a stunning group of entertainers. Their stage performance is one-of-a-kind, unlike anything else in the world. However, their flawless musical delivery is what draws me in as a fan. The Rammstein discography is filled with memorable guitar riffs, vocal melodies, and catchy hook-laden rhythms that stick in your brain. The word around the campfire is that Rammstein are working towards the release of a much-anticipated seventh full-length album in the not-too-distant future, which will hopefully also mean more touring in support of it!
- Ramm 4
- Reise, Reise
- Keine Lust
- Feuer frei!
- Ich tu dir weh
- Du riechst so gut
- Mein Herz brennt
- Links 2-3-4
- Ich will
- Du hast
- Stripped – (Depeche Mode cover)
Rammstein – Sonne (Live at Rock im Park 2017)
For anyone who is not able to catch them live, I highly recommend checking out their most recent live DVD, Rammstein: Paris. You can read our review of the DVD here!