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Standing onstage Friday at the Roxy in front of a crowd of screaming teenage girls and schmoozing music-biz types, Bill Kaulitz of Germany's Tokio Hotel announced that he'd brought something from halfway across the world.
Vintage lederhosen? A handmade cuckoo clock? A rare species of gummy bear?
No, it was "Totgeliebt," one of the German-language hits that's propelled the young emo-glam outfit to Hannah Montana-style superstardom in Europe. Like everything else by Tokio Hotel, "Totgeliebt" (Love Is Dead) sounded like the Jonas Brothers covering Guns N' Roses, the latest iteration of the deathless musical genre known as hair metal. (Tokio Hotel emphasizes the hair more than the metal: Kaulitz sports an outsized fright wig; his guitarist brother Tom wears a bundle of dreadlocks.)
The Kaulitzes and their two regular-guy mates were at the Roxy for the first of three U.S. gigs ahead of the release later this year of "Scream," which collects (and translates into English) 12 tunes from their two German albums. That everyone in the audience knew the words to the songs is testament to the irrelevance of release dates in the Internet Age.
Kaulitz offered little in the way of stage banter ("We'll be back," he promised near the end, sounding a like a pint-size Governator), but what could he have said that Tokio Hotel's relentlessly crafty music -- or his strangely balletic rock-god stage moves -- didn't communicate more clearly?
Minus the studio sweetening on "Scream," the ballads suffered Friday in comparison to the rockers. But if they graduate to arenas the way they have in Germany, they'll have the voices of thousands of fans to fill in all the empty spaces.