"DEVOLUTION is REAL, people!"
Jerry Casale's battle cry rings out across a sea of 10,000
at their sold out show at Morningside Park in New York City
Images are beamed via a large digital screen facing the huge crowd.
Vintage video and film footage flashes at breakneck speed.
A film of General Boy created decades ago introduces the audience to how to handle themselves at a Devo concert. He goes on to give sound advice:
"It's not the human mind we must fear, but lack of it, on this planet,"
calmly states, "Why believe in things that make it tough on you?
Give the past the slip! It's time for New Traditions!"
Immediately following are images appearing over a woman's head,
including money, a church, and a vibrating dildo. Then 3 crucified
figures wearing space exploration helmets writhe and wince
uncomfortably. In the next instant, the figures have all broken
free and shattered their crucifixes in unison as if on cue.
I suddenly realized that I had just witnessed a prime example of
why NIKE's sponsorship of several DEVO shows across the USA
was such a very, very good idea. This was perfect.
The next day was to be DEVO's return to Central Park nearly 25 years
after their first time there in 1980. We woke to rain, rain, and more rain.
A TV crew set up a tent to interview the band, which will supposedly be aired on ABC sometime in August. Sound check was around 2pm, and the rain continued to pour down. There were numerous calls to my cellphone asking if the show was cancelled, some even assumed it was definitely called off due to weather...and I was beginning to wonder, myself.
The only thing that gave us hope at that point was the fact that DEVO
continued with their sound check, ignoring the rain as much as possible.
During opening sets by Stellastarr & The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the rain continued... but both bands held it together and gave the crowd a great show. Then the weather began to change as the sky cleared a bit, and
the rain completely stopped...just as DEVO's crew was setting the stage.
The entire DEVO set was rain-free, and featured on encore by the one
Booji Boy, who hasn't made a public appearance in years:
• Video intro/ That's Good • Girl U Want • Whip It • Satisfaction •
• Uncontrollable Urge • Mongoloid • Blockhead • Jocko Homo •
• Smart Patrol/Mr.DNA • Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy • Gates Of Steel •
Encore: Freedom Of Choice • Beautiful World (featuring Booji Boy!) •
Then, just as the last note of Beautiful World faded out, at the same time
DEVO was stepping off the stage, the skies opened up with an incredibly
powerful downpour that soaked everyone in an instant. It was all so
cleansing & uplifting... and the park was empty within a few minutes.
see a show review in The Triangle
After returning to our rooms to change out of our soaked clothes, we
hastily made our way to the after party that was already in progress.
Club Eugene was host to the event, with sponsorship by SPIN Magazine
and Bacardi. Billed as "SPIN and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Celebrate the Return of DEVO to NYC", the party had a Bollywood/Bhangra theme, and featured performances by Desi-DEVO (feat. performers from the Broadway show Bombay Dreams) and DJ Rekha (Spinning "DEVO-Sutra"). Guests were also treated to a video collage of DEVO imagery, including photos
from the Summerstage show earlier that night. There were also several
pieces from Mark Mothersbaugh's Beautiful Mutants artwork on display
as a preview of his gallery show the following night at FUSE in NYC.
The club was completely engorged with a variety of people by the time
I arrived at around 11:30pm. There were famous faces like Moby, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, artist Joe Coleman, and Lizzy of Fischerspooner,
mixing with DEVO fans from all over the world, and the common NYC
club-goer who only knows DEVO for Whip It. It was a weird scene, yet
highly entertaining (and fueled by a stack of free drink tickets).
The climax of the evening was when Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh
joined the Bombay Dreams performers onstage for live, Desi-DEVO versions of Girl U Want and Beautiful World. Aalok Mehta, who played the sitar onstage, got the crowd chanting, "DEVO - First Class! DEVO - First Class!". Mark and Anisha Nagarajan went back & forth with vocals on Girl U Want in a dueling-banjos style - Anisha with her traditional, Bollywood flavor, and Mark with a relentless caterwauling (which surely had guests in other parts of the club wondering what the hell was going on with the sound system).
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It was great seeing all my friends from NYC, NC, and LA in the same
room, and nice to meet new friends who I hope to keep in touch with.
See you at the next show
Michael Pilmer • Devo-Obsesso.com
(Thanks to everyone who supplied photos for this report)