Who needs the Fountain of Youth when you can grow old disgracefully with DEVO?
DEVO are so old they probably heard Darwin himself explain his evolutionary theory. They have a combined age of 234. Guitarist Bob Casale looks like he has to take a deep breath just to pick up the guitar, while singer Mark Mothersbaugh looks like he's ready to skip his twilight years and jump straight into the twilight zone. And they can still sell out a venue on a Tuesday night and fill it with kids willing to spend $30 for a plastic dome hat and jump around to music, which, to them, really is new wave.
To mark Warner Bros.' recent reissues of their 1978 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! and 1980's Freedom of Choice, DEVO made the first stop of their nationwide tour dedicated to playing the entirety of both albums over two nights. After screening the early '70s videos to “Secret Agent Man” and “Jocko Homo” (featuring a cameo by the Mothersbaughs' dad), the Mothersbaugh and Casale brothers hit the stage. And no sooner did the four–along with drummer Josh Freese (formerly of Nine Inch Nails, and currently with Weezer, A Perfect Circle and the Vandals), a mere pup at 36–tear into the album's opener “Uncontrollable Urge” than Mothersbaugh started ripping the sleeves off their yellow jumpsuits as if they had been pieced together with Scotch tape, leaving them looking a bowl of half-eaten bananas.
(More DEVOtion, rad photos of some good-looking senior citizens, and bonus video of Pearl Jam “Whipping It!” for Halloween after the jump)
With his correctional glasses, Mothersbaugh has always been the mad scientist/comedic centerpiece. If he wasn't waving around pom poms, he was pretending to smoke and sip a drink behind the keyboards. The entire band, in fact, are funny to watch, whether they're doing synchronized military-style dances, slowly following each other in a circle, unsuccessfully jumping on the speakers, or stripping down to matching black T-shirts, shorts, knee socks and knee pads.
Though they can't bend as easily as they used to, DEVO's deconstructed, entirely sexless version of “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” still manages to be a hoot after all these years. They had the audience throwing their arms left-to-right on “Praying Hands” and spelling D-E-V-O during “Jocko Homo,” while the bouncy “Mongoloid” created a decent size mosh pit. Mothersbaugh himself even jumped into the crowd twice, proving that in rock 'n' roll, old farts can and should throw caution to the wind.
A brief encore included “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA” off 1979's Duty Now For the Future and “Gates of Steel,” a nod to tonight's show, which is dedicated to Freedom of Choice.
If you've never subscribed to DEVO's own theory on evolution– or de-volution–and the idea that us humans are regressing to our stupid simian selves, look out the window. If you're still not convinced, try standing on Hollywood Boulevard surrounded by T-shirt peddlers, ticket scalpers and a crazed, religious Asian man yelling “Delibah Jesus! Delibah Jesus!” into a mini traffic cone. Suddenly, it'll all make sense.
Bonus Video: Pearl Jam as Devo last week in Philly: