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DEVO Lives
June 15, 2007 1:13 PM   Subscribe

On the cusp of DEVO's first tour of Europe since 1990, it's become clear that, though largely cast aside after their 1980 hit "Whip It", DEVO's influence is finally being felt on modern audiences, around the world. DEVO has inspired tribute bands, some traditional, some not. They've also spawned new bands, domestic [MySpace link], and Foreign like Japan's POLYSICS [YouTube], and Germany's Mutate Now [YouTube]. With musical inspiration like this, can't we forgive such missteps as Devo 2.0?
posted by SansPoint (55 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
As an aside, I actually like Devo 2.0.
posted by SansPoint at 1:14 PM on June 15, 2007


BUCKETS!
posted by miss lynnster at 1:15 PM on June 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


yeah dude, Dev(2.)0 is probably the most incredible band you've linked to in the whole post. lets get our priorities straight here
posted by radiosig at 1:15 PM on June 15, 2007


Count me in as a Devo 2.0 fan as well.
posted by quibx at 1:16 PM on June 15, 2007


BUCKETS!
posted by ND¢ at 1:19 PM on June 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


@SansPoint: DEVO 2.0 4 Eva!
posted by humannaire at 1:19 PM on June 15, 2007


We must repeat!
posted by eriko at 1:25 PM on June 15, 2007


DEVO 2.0 4 Eva!

DEVO 2.04? Personally I'm waiting for DEVO 3 RC(1)
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on June 15, 2007


DEV2.0 was far better in concept than reality, but as a profitable comment-on-the-current-state- of-pop-music-art-piece, it's pretty good.

Plus, it was bankrolled by Disney.
posted by SPUTNIK at 1:28 PM on June 15, 2007


DEVO 2.0 4 Eva!

Wait, they pilot Eva?
posted by eckeric at 1:32 PM on June 15, 2007


WITH THE OLD DOGS
AND THE YOUNG DOGS
CLAP TOGETHER
FOR A SPRING
YOU CAN BEST
WELL I'LL GIVE IT
THEY'LL BE RUNNING FAST AND FREE
...
MONEY'S NEVER WRONG
...
THERE'S A MESSAGE IN THIS DITTY
THERE'S A MORAL TO THIS SONG
WHEN THE DOGS
GET THEIR BONES
REMEMBER THEY'LL BE HOWLIN'
MONEY'S NEVER WRONG
posted by mds35 at 1:38 PM on June 15, 2007


I'm not forgiving anything.

ANYTHING!

AT ALL!

EVA...ummm...EVER!
posted by Samizdata at 1:38 PM on June 15, 2007


DID NOT WANT!
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on June 15, 2007


EVEN IF IS HAVING CHEEZ... Forget it...
posted by Samizdata at 1:52 PM on June 15, 2007


wanders off singing Girl U Want quietly...
posted by Samizdata at 1:54 PM on June 15, 2007


can't we forgive such missteps as Devo 2.0?

Look. They COULD have covered something really repulsive... like, imagine:

NIGHT RANGER 2.0!!!!

For the kids Dev2.0 is pretty good.
posted by tkchrist at 1:56 PM on June 15, 2007


Are We Not Men? We Are EVOO!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:57 PM on June 15, 2007


people are just now figuring out that devo were incredible? i'm 30 and missed the heyday, but i thought they were always considered one of the greats. maybe just in my world.
posted by andywolf at 1:58 PM on June 15, 2007


Can we just cut and paste the comments from the BUCKETS thread into this one and leave it at that?
posted by davejay at 2:00 PM on June 15, 2007


The video for RU Experienced (graphics by your truly) got pulled after one play on MTV due to legal problems with the Hendrix estate, seemed like the band's fortunes went downhill after that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:04 PM on June 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


*refrains*
posted by dersins at 2:05 PM on June 15, 2007


I'd just like to say that I got to see DEVO live for the first time last fall. Even though they're all, like what, over 80, they fucking rocked. Rocked, I tell you. 20 years of waiting to see them and it was totally worth it.
posted by lekvar at 2:20 PM on June 15, 2007


1 2 BE STIFF!
posted by malocchio at 2:25 PM on June 15, 2007


I'm with lekvar. Got my first chance to see them last fall, and was blown away. Bob can wail on that guitar! I was dumbfounded by how tight they were for seldom playing together and how much energy they had for their age...they're also one of the few bands out there who were different enough from the mainstream as to allow their music to not really get stale.

Easily in my top 5 shows of all time.
posted by kaseijin at 2:37 PM on June 15, 2007


When you've got a dirty floor, you must Swiff it.

Now if only Il Divo did operatic covers of Devo songs (with Energy Dome hats, natch) instead of Toni Braxton...
posted by O9scar at 2:57 PM on June 15, 2007


I saw them back in the day.

All I can still say is...

Oh.

My.

God.
posted by Samizdata at 2:59 PM on June 15, 2007


At the risk of self-linking, I'm going to point you to a couple of blog posts I wrote that contain some old Devo performances, Devo covers, Polysics videos, and other bits of YouTube-powered video nostalgia.
posted by The Tensor at 3:13 PM on June 15, 2007


"Maybe we like ideas."
"Yeah, well maybe we like to talk in tonnage."
posted by Meatbomb at 3:26 PM on June 15, 2007


If any of you guys want to come over, I can dust-off the VCR and pop-in my copy of "The Men Who Made the Music".
We can all devolve together.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:36 PM on June 15, 2007


That first album is high art - still fresh, still sly, still smart. One of the few records from the New Wave era that still sounds like it was written and recorded yesterday.
posted by davebush at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2007


@Meatbomb

Amusingly, there are DEVO dolls now. "We've even got your jumpsuits!"
posted by SansPoint at 3:59 PM on June 15, 2007


i concure with davebush, "are we not men: we are devo" is a brilliant groundbreaking album. its a shame that its destined to always be overshadowed by their most accessible album "freedom of choice", which by the way - i love just as much if not more.
posted by cazoo at 4:15 PM on June 15, 2007


Only twice in my life have particular songs made such an impact that when they were first released, everyone at my school was talking about it the next day. One was Bohemian Rhapsody, which came out when I was in the seventh or eighth grade. The other was Jocko Homo, which appeared as a film on Saturday Night Live. For me DEVO was absolutely revolutionary, and caused a great conflict within me because I was profoundly divided as to who was cooler; DEVO or Led Zeppelin.

I was highly disappointed by their second album, and had kind of lost interest by the time "Whip It" came out. But for one golden moment there, they were totally mind-melting...
posted by Tube at 4:28 PM on June 15, 2007


One of the few records from the New Wave era that still sounds like it was written and recorded yesterday.

Oingo Boingo's debut album falls into this category as well, although "Little Girls" still creeps me out.
posted by davejay at 5:01 PM on June 15, 2007


DEVO's influence is finally being felt on modern audiences

Oh, come on. DEVO immediately took over the area of "high-energy weird pop" and kept it forever after. If you do any sort of weird music at all, you get compared to Zappa if they think you're clever and DEVO if they think you're stupid.

But for one golden moment there, they were totally mind-melting...

Well, I have a treat for you then: Hardcore Devo Volumes One and Two.

This is astonishingly good material, it's all from that golden moment, and if you haven't heard those albums, you haven't heard most of these songs, not just well-known alternate tracks like "Auto Mowdown" and "Mechanical Man" but brilliant weirdnesses like "Chango" and "Can U Take It?" It's all 4-track demos but the quality is excellent.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:01 PM on June 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Only twice in my life have particular songs made such an impact that when they were first released, everyone at my school was talking about it the next day. One was Bohemian Rhapsody, which came out when I was in the seventh or eighth grade. The other was Jocko Homo, which appeared as a film on Saturday Night Live. For me DEVO was absolutely revolutionary, and caused a great conflict within me because I was profoundly divided as to who was cooler; DEVO or Led Zeppelin.

For my elementary school (and age) it was Prince and The Revolution, 1999. I think I was in eighth grade.
posted by davejay at 5:01 PM on June 15, 2007


Jocko Homo
posted by Otis at 5:13 PM on June 15, 2007


Also: Whip It!
posted by honest knave at 5:20 PM on June 15, 2007


I actually saw Devo perform, by accident no less, on my first honeymoon in Asbury Park, NJ in 1981. My then-new wife and I were walking down the boardwalk when we spotted a crowd around the Convention Center. Curious, we went up and found that they were waiting to go into a Devo concert.

Since it wasn't sold out, we figured "What the hell!" and bought tickets. Great, fun show.

By the way, I also am a Devo 2.0 fan. The CD/DVD is a lot of fun and the animations are entertaining.
posted by Cranky Media Guy at 5:33 PM on June 15, 2007


Whenever i feel down i listen to either Worried Man or Beautiful World...and i feel better...
posted by schyler523 at 7:11 PM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Try to get a corner seat in a restaurant - you can't always get one!
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:26 PM on June 15, 2007


Is it On?
Is it Off?
Reply.
posted by pointilist at 7:43 PM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Come Back Jonee
posted by vronsky at 7:44 PM on June 15, 2007


devo in 1977, talk about being ahead of there time.
amazing.

posted by andywolf at 7:56 PM on June 15, 2007


oh, and speaking of carrying on the torch, the best of the lot.
servotron.

posted by andywolf at 7:59 PM on June 15, 2007


god i love devo so fucking much!!!
posted by brevator at 8:21 PM on June 15, 2007


Jocko Homo live in Japan, looks like within the last couple of years or so. Damn, they do still have it.

Are we not men?
posted by yhbc at 8:34 PM on June 15, 2007


"...largely cast aside after their 1980 hit..."

Oingo Boingo and Devo are the two bands that throughout my life have consistently stayed at or near the top of my list of favorite bands. When people ask "so what kinda music do you like?" those two names usually come outta my mouth first. Whether I say Boingo before Devo or vice versa is pretty much a toss up. Boingo is consistently more polished and orchestrated, but Devo's more consistently raw and digitized.

Other bands or artists have gone up and down that list in my head over the years, but consistently, the music of Devo and Boingo never disappoint. However I feel, whatever's going on in life, if I turn to that music, it makes me happy.

Devo's entire merchandising gimmick was a slap in the face of corporate pop music and the culture that lemminged its way to it. When they became a "one shot wonder" themselves, it was perhaps the Ultimate Joke that could ever have been pulled on the record industry at the time, and Devo singlehandedly did it. They slapped a cream pie on what became the RIAA.

Mark Mothersbaugh once said of the Church of the SubGenius: "'Bob' has come to help a constipated society blow it out it's ass!!!" In actuality, that was Devo's purpose. Essentially their whole syncopated live show with the robotic movements and bright primary colors was the creative spirit behind Devo saying, this is what you freaks look like to us. We're just parroting you. When you blindly follow authority, this is our impression of you, and you can see it's pretty insane. So. Lighten up. Have some beer. Enjoy yourselves, and stop taking every little shit so seriously.

Devo was making fun of the audience, like a jester doing an impression of the king right to his face, and the audience ate that shit up like diet coke and mentos. At least mainstream audiences did off and on for what now? Almost thirty years?

Devo's not just a band. It's not just a collection of songs.

It's not a lifestyle either. It's not a philosophy. That'd be trite and pablumatic bullshit.

It's barely a noun. However, whatever it is, Devo exists. It's there when you tune into it and when you're not listening to it, it's off pounding on trees in forests.

Devo's there whether you see it or not.

Devo doesn't need anyone and exists whether corporate entity X or music critic Y acknowledges it but in that time back in the 1980s, in the history of music, the world desperately needed Devo: it still does.

So I don't know about the rest of the world, but I ain't never 'largely cast aside' Devo. One dismisses Devo's snide and backhanded contribution to rock music and humanity at one's own peril.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:40 AM on June 16, 2007 [4 favorites]



Mark Mothersbaugh scored all the Wes Anderson movies. Whatever you think of the movies, the scores are exceptional.
Freakin' Devo dude wrote all that awesome music! Awesome! (As said in my ninth grade voice, when I first heard them.)
posted by From Bklyn at 1:13 PM on June 16, 2007


"Not necessarily beautiful... but MICKEYMOUSED!????"


...uhm.. I didn't know about this ..DEVO 2.0 thing until just now. It's creeping me out. Mothersbaugh was in on this... Apparently if wikipedia's to be believed, all the original Devo members were in on this. Talk about selling out. This time it doesn't seem to be with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Uncontrollable Urge rewritten to be about junk food? Devo devolved into Weird Al Yankovic. Great.

I'm gonna go scratch my eyes out. Excuse me.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2007


I don't think DEV2.0 represents a sell-out at all. To me, it's just the next phase of the joke; de-evolution writ large, their music dumbed down and commodified the same way they've been pointing out for years that everything is being dumbed down and commodified. I think DEVO is perfectly aware of what they're doing with that, and I think the fact that they managed to sucker as huge an entity as the Mouse into doing it is nothing short of brilliant.
posted by webmutant at 2:38 PM on June 16, 2007


DEVO member Gerald V. Casale sings Mongoloid at a Venice, CA house party on April 28, 2007...
posted by fairmettle at 5:19 PM on June 16, 2007


Damn. I've watched more of the videos, and, even though I was a DEVO fan before, I now have to say that they may well be the best band I never got to see live.

And I include the Clash in that list.
posted by yhbc at 8:25 PM on June 16, 2007


WebMutant: "I don't think DEV2.0 represents a sell-out at all. To me, it's just the next phase of the joke.."

I have since managed to find a couple videos of Devo 2.0 on the web, and I am still scratching my eyes out.

In order to attempt to cling to my idealistic view of Devo back during their heady heydey and my childhood, I could tell myself that Mothersbaugh and the two Bobs and the others were just doing to Devo what they've seen society do to everything else, again to try and show their audience a distorted mirror image of itself.

With the conservative political correctness that has permeated our society over the past half century, everything gets dumbed down for a less educated audience, rather than try to teach an audience what it needs to know to understand. So Devo's progenitors were merely continuing in the direction they had established thirty years ago, as WebMutant suggests.

Having a young female human singing "Whip It" without any sexual overtones whatsoever, and a blatant attempt with the visuals to indicate that whipping has to do with desert toppings and nothing to do with sadomasochism, exemplifies the purposeful attempt by society today to remove anything spicy or provacative from the menu of mainstream corporate media. Devo was purposefully offensive thirty years ago, and by today's standards the old music videos of my youth have become trite and amusing. I suppose it's only proper that its 'reboot' have the same bland taste. This just feels more like one step forward two steps back.

Likewise, the Corporate Anthem is turned into a vanilla celebration of joining the crowd rather than a sarcastic parody against such lemming-like tendencies. The end result may have seemed to continue in the footsteps of their own past, but in practice it's more like "if you can't beat them join them, and cash in at the bank on the way."

So naturally, this attempt by Devo to cater the angst-ridden energies of their own youth to the youth of tomorrow doesn't quite cut the mustard. However, objectively speaking, the music is just as good as its always been, and I have to admit the vocals of version two point oh aren't all that bad, though the lead female singer lacks Mothersbaugh's simultaneous mechanical and emotional intensity. She also hasn't quite found her own style yet but still... it's not bad.

Perhaps once again Devo is simply ahead of their time, and a generation from now, young people will find the remnants of this commercial failure in record bins or online somewhere, and they'll see something in it to which I'm both blind and deaf.

The only constant in the universe is change, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2007


Seeing Devo on Saturday Night Live was a watershed in my life. Most of my friends were into Led Zeppelin and The Who, and while I could appreciate that stuff, there was so much bombastic garbage and faux drama that I was bored with it all. Devo was something new to me, they had an energy that I was immediately drawn to. It wouldn't be until many years later I would try to pin it down, to give it a name.

I have trouble with the terminology here, because the term 'rock and roll' increasingly is used in an historical sense, referring to Buddy Holly, et al. and there does need to be a term for that. The term 'rock' is much too broad, it has been used to describe just about anything with a guitar, so the term doesn't get to the heart of the matter. So what do I call that feeling, that energy when Mark Mothersbaugh psychos out The Stone's "Satisfaction" with a few extra million baby baby baby baby baby's?

For now I just call it the spirit of rock and roll, despite the overloaded meaning. On the Robert Fripp album "The League Of Gentlemen" there is a young lady, (Sara Lee?) who says, "Rock and Roll is about fucking." That's what I'm talking about! And undeniably that is where that energy comes from.

Most later Devo I could take or leave, but "Uncontrollable Urge" and "Girl U Want" are forever in my pantheon of top rock and roll songs of all time.
posted by bitslayer at 8:42 PM on June 17, 2007


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