November 6th, 2009 5:33 pm | by NATHAN CARSON Music | Posted In: Columns

DEVO: Totally Worth a Drive to Seattle!

we are devo!This Sunday and Monday, DEVO is performing two of its most beloved albums at Seattle's intimate Moore Theater. The first night, 1978 album Q: Are We Not Men?, A: We Are DEVO! will be played in its entirety. In 2009, this record still sounds exactly as God and Brian Eno intended. Eno's production is clear and visceral in a way the group never was again. But that's the rub when you believe in De-Evolution: Things start out uncontrollably great, and eventually shrivel up. Portland, you are probably too cheap to woo acts that charge $38-75 (not including service fees). But should your mutant mind crave a fix of smart and prophetic new wave, Seattle is not so far away. So, in case you need some prodding, here's a track-by-track breakdown of Q: Are We Not Men?, A: We Are DEVO!

Uncontrollable Urge – “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah YEAH!” Thus begins this clarion call of repetitious punk energy. Lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh can't contain his enthusiasm. He just wants to “scream and shout.”

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction – The best cover tune of all time. DEVO gives this burnt nugget back its bite, turning it into an inverted diatribe against commercial excess that sounds like its being played backward. [Bonus points to Church of Subgenius' Reverend Ivan Stang for directing the video which features mascot Booji Boy sticking a fork into a toaster.]

Praying Hands – Here's where the concept really starts to unfold. The vocal banter is full of ennui as it implores the listener to “roll over, play dead, get spiritual minded.” “Go into doggie submission,” says Mark. Succumb to de-evolution.

Space Junk – The first of many love songs from DEVO. Hell, even “Whip It” is loaded with innuendo. In this tragedy, lovers around the globe are killed by falling debris. Environmental/futurism had never rollicked before.

Mongoloid – A ballad to mutation; the most sympathetic pinhead portrait ever penned.

Jocko Homo – A throwback to DEVO's Kent State art school days, this revamped version is the first and final word on De-evolution. Who knew we were really grown from snails? When men with colored pantyhose on their heads sing to you from inside giant yellow condoms, you know shit is getting heavy and the truth is out there.

Too Much Paranoias – Recycled fast food ad copy filtered through a psychosis of synths.

Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy – The longest song on the album is really a twofer. Four minutes of broken heart segues perfectly into a minute of matricide.

Come Back Jonee – Even as DEVO stares at the 21st century from the seedy '70s, its radioactive reach extends back to Chuck Berry's Jonee B and throttles him Good.

Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin) – “Sloppy” sits firmly in the boneyard, but it doesn't miss the boat. It falls and gets up as many times as a drunken party buffoon.

Shrivel Up – The eeriest and most unnerving track, with a nearly wordless chorus that is so epic it had to be the last song. “You're dying under daddy's cap”—what does this even mean? If you like this one, you're in luck: it perfectly presages the vibe of DEVO's second and most underrated album Duty Now For the Future. Odds are better than good that tunes from the sophomore effort will round out this concert and make aging nerds (like me), very, very happy.

DEVO also performs its most famous album, Freedom of Choice on Monday, 11/9.


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