I saw DEVO play in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Pool in the Summer of 2008. Opening for the resurgent quintet on the humid day was Dan Deacon & the Tom Tom Club. DEVO, after several years of playing summer festivals and shows, had recently started touring non-stop. It showed. The band, a mathematical equation exploring the asymmetrical universe of disjointed melody and chaotic meter, had never played tighter, more together. Or so I imagined. It was my first DEVO show, but these five natives of middle Ohio had been pioneering their weird and beautiful synth-pop together off and on for more than 30 years. And their first recordings are some of their best.
When was the last time you took park in some kind of human chain? Uniting you and your brothers and sisters together in some sort of somehow holy communion–touched, reached, clamored and willingly held hands with hundreds of people you didn’t know while beneath you runs the ever ebbing and flowing mass of those same folks from one end of the chain to create the other…This during Dan Deacon’s set. It only got better from then on…
I had had a beer. Or two or three. Probably four by the time the heat had evaporated into night and the Tom Tom Club had evanesced into the sound of a milling crowd waiting for dark, waiting for the cool, waiting for DEVO. And with DEVO who knows what to expect. Something in me heard a call, and as I happened to be near the front of the stage–and had my camera and press pass on me–I jumped in line and followed the photographers as they lined up past security into the photo pit. I pushed Fuji x-chrome 400 with a 17-35mm Nikon wide angle lens and when I pulled out my plastic Holga 120N to go a bit more expressionistic, I felt the old competitive push sink in and began to think that HOLGA is the ultimate concert photographer’s equalizer. As with any professional photography there is a lot of cock and swagger going on, a lot of, “Whose got the biggest lens…?” especially down in the pit, but when shooting with the snub-nosed HOLGA, expect to get looks that suggest more than just banal stock topics over afterdinner drinks with vague allusions to Hello Kitty anal beads and dildos as swizzle sticks. I glanced left and right, clicking the plastic shutter without care to where it was pointed thinking, “That’s right, with HOLGA you can move beyond the quotidian latent faggocy of testosterone-driven lens-envy and into the eternal, the asexual, the plasticine, into HONG KONG manufactured light itself. Thank you DEVO for freeing my mind tonight.”
DEVO hits the road in June to perform songs from Hardcore Devo: Volume One, the experimental music the band created between 1974-1977 in Akron Ohio. The tour is dedicated to the memory of Robert Casale, (A.K.A. Bob 2), who passed away this February, one of the five original DEVO band members and a portion of all proceeds from the tour will go to Bob Casale’s family.
June 18- Baltimore, MD – Ramshead
June 19- NYC – Best Buy Theatre
June 21- Chicago, IL – Arcada Theatre
June 23- Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
June 25- Seattle, WA – Neptune
June 26- Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
June 28- Oakland, CA – Fox Theatre
June 29- Los Angeles, CA – Wiltern
June 30- Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
July 2- Austin, TX – ACL/Moody Theatre