The spaceship hovered before us.
It looked like it might actually try to land, right in the middle of the crowd, which prompted a collective gasp from the 2,800 earthlings in attendance.
The vessel was being piloted by strange creatures, lit in various shades of neon and in possession of otherworldly powers.
Welcome to "Close Encounters of the 3-D Kind," except the visitors didn't hail from some far-off galaxy, but rather Germany.
It was the return of Kraftwerk, the futuristic electronic-music act that first embarked on its mission to bring new sounds and visions to the people of Earth 44 years ago.
The group certainly stayed true to that mission on Sunday at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Kraftwerk thrilled the capacity crowd with intergalactic grooves and bionic beats throughout the night, while delivering a 3-D visual display that was simply breathtaking.
Fans were given 3-D glasses as they entered the building, and the imagery was played on a huge screen erected at the back of the stage. It was a glorious achievement in technologically enhanced performance art, one that perfectly matched the group's mighty legacy in pioneering electronic music.
So much has changed since Kraftwerk last landed in the Bay Area, more than 10 years ago. Most notable, its brand of music has been validated in ways that even the Kraftwerk guys probably never dreamed possible. Electronic music, once considered an oddity in an industry dominated by bands with guitars, has gone mainstream.
So many acts, from DJs Skrillex and Deadmau5 to electronic duos Disclosure and The Knife, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kraftwerk. That's why Daft Punk's shocking triumph at the most recent Grammy Awards -- winning album of the year for "Random Access Memories" -- can also be seen as a victory for Kraftwerk. It's hard to imagine there even being a Daft Punk if Kraftwerk hadn't come along first. (In a nice twist of fate, Kraftwerk was honored with a lifetime achievement Grammy at that same ceremony.
All of that factored heavily into the huge demand to see the legendary band, which originally formed in 1970. Kraftwerk's entire three-night run at the Fox, which continues through Tuesday, sold out well in advance.
The nearly two-hour show, devised to thrill newcomers and longtime fans alike, was filled with the band's best-known songs -- "The Robots," "Autobahn," "The Model," "Computer Love," etc. Most of the tracks were released decades ago but still sound well ahead of the times. That's amazing, given that more acts than ever before are trying to sound like Kraftwerk.
The four Kraftwerk members let the 3-D effects and light display carry the visual load, while they stood, near-motionless in front of their stations and pressed buttons.
Fortunately, they pushed nothing but the right buttons on this night.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.