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July 16, 1980 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1980-07-16

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Page 8-Wednesday, July 16, 1980-The Michigan Daily
Devo! Shut up and dance!

If people would begin to regard Devo
for what they are-a fun dance
band-the spudboys from Akron might
get a little more respect today. For the
last few years, they have been touring
America in radiation suits, playing
wooden-plank guitars to schizophrenic

vocals, percussion, and keyboards, and
supposedly espousing a philosophical
doctrine called "de-evolution:" As a
species, our development has peaked,
and we're regressing steadily back to
stone-age mentality.
Unfortunately, the fundamental asset
going for this band-its fierce energy,

"Me and my friends here, you see, have formed a secret club. We meet in
the treehouse in Alan's backyard where we do secret experiments with our
chemistry sets. We might take over the world some day if our moms don't
find out what we did with their flower pots."

i -


at Ponderosa !
4 Eat
_ i
En(os ourfarnous All-You-Can-Eat
Salad Bar with these three Lunch Specials
3354 East Washtenaw Ave.
11.00 am to 4:0mbpm
Tob" Wsarogitr tSad marki AtvPrticipatngSteakhouses.
Just N -oth ofnterdecyio.
11:00jo am sto :0 Os

its deliberate dancability, is largely
overshadowed in the minds of many,
who take their approach seriously and
are intimidated by it. This preoc-
cupation, largely a conceptual pitfall
that they (the musicans) should have
expected, has discolored Devo's more
legitimate roll as an innovative,
playful, and self-parodying con-
tribution to American rock and roll.
MONDAY NIGHT in the steamy
Motor City Roller Rink, we saw Devo in
their natural environment, playing vir-
tually non-stop for ninety minutes to a
gleefully pogoing crowd in 120-degree
heat. Their political ideology paturally
took a back seat during their appearan-
ce, to the hyperactive, wildly spirited
pace of their music, which had the
sweat-soaked audience dancing from
beginning to end, and had them hissing
angrily when Booji Boy came out after
the closing "Corporate Anthem" film
and squealed, "Good night spuds, we're
all Devo. We're aall Devo!"
It was a fun, hilarious appearance, no
more no less. The band appeared
neither pretentious nor glittery-their
product was modest, straight-forward
rock and roll. Concentrating on their
new material (from Freedom of
Choice) during their first set, and their
earlier works from Are We Not Men
and Duty Now for the Future in their
closing set, the ornate orchestrations
and eccentric lyrics did not inhibit the
music's energy-they added to its
comic flair. Songs like "Gates of Steel,"
"Gut Feeling" and "Come Back John-
ny" were performed with power and in--
tensity-those poses are a thing of the
past. There were no real twists or
diversions in the treatment of their
material, however, which was one
disappointment in their performan-
ce-but the familiar works heard live
remained engaing throughout the con-
cert, and the lack of spontaneous im-
provisations was not too disturbing.
REP -'80
Nol Coward at his sophisti-
cated est. In an attempt to
earn about the occult, a
man gets far more than he
bargains for when the ghost
of his first wife returns from
"beyond" to complicate life
with his second wife.
July ic,
Tickets at PTP-MI League,
Noon-5pm, M-F
Charges by phone 764-0450
Power Center boofoflice
opens at 6pm (763-3333)

Neither was the absence of any real
showmanship. Though they weren't
playing like robots in most songs (ex-
cepting the ultra-mechanical treatment
of "Satisfaction," for instance), the
musicians remained fairly sedentary
onstage, and fairly blase visually.
Lead singer-keyboardist Mark
-Mothersbaugh (pictured in center of
accompanying photograph), who
epitomized Devo's derang-
ed, almost psychotic appeal,
performed most of the group's
theatrics, and dealt most closely with
the elbowing crowd at his feet. Bassist
Jerry Casale dominated the spotlight in
songs like "Mongoloid," the Talking
Heads parody "Planet Earth," and
the Devoesque interpretation of
"Secret Agent Man," but kept in the
background generally. Bob Mother-
sbaugh (alias Bob No. 2) handled the
herky-jerky rhythm guitar with
mechanical effortlessness, yet his stage
presence was fairly transparent.
Drummer Alan Myers and Bob Casale
also remained relatively secluded on-
stage. In general, Devo is not much to
watch for any length of time. Once the
effect of their spudsuits and helmets,
and their bizarre, alien gestures
became familiar (which was one
motivation for seeing them live) it was
time to pogo. Although many in the
Detroit-based crowd seemed uncomfor-
table with this apparently unfamiliar
activity-as one spectator mused after
the concert: "When we began to really
start dancing, the people around us
moved away, like they thought we were
THE BOTTOM LINE for many in the
roller rink, unfortunately, was the
heat-throughout the show, a steady
flow of prostrated Devotees shuffled
towards the lobby, which was slippery
with a quarter-inch pool of sweat. In or-
der to truly see any band at this arena,
which contains no seats whatsoever,
one has to squeeze through the ill-
tempered spectators to the stage. But to
many, the suffocating heat made en-
joying the concert prohibitive, and they
gathered around the snack bar making
snide comments like "This is really
great, both a concert and a sauna bath
for the price of one," and "Boy, I've
been wanting to lose weight, and I've
just lost 15 pounds." Between the
barely habitable temperature in the
building, and the lack of seats (which is
directly discriminate against the small
and meek, who end up with no view at
all), the Motor City Roller Rink is
among the shabbier spots to see concer-
ts-but they've brought us The B-52s
The Clash, and Devo in the past year,
which makes such complaints slightly
less emphatic.
Devo has been cited as being a "one-
joke novelty band" with no real depth,
and their "pseudo-philosophical"
ideology is dismissed as pretentious
pap. These people seem to be missing
the point-they're expecting too much.
After seeing them in concert, and
hearing their albums over and over in
recent days, it becomes clear what this
band really is-a fun rock and roll dan-
ce band. Nothing more, nothing less.
And hey, the Devo-movies before and
after theshow were real neat too.

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