DEVO Sneak Preview of the “New Look” for SXSW… got MUSIC SMARTS?

March 15, 2009

DEVO will be performing March 20 in Austin, Texas, and sporting their “new” jumpsuit look, which features red-trimmed sneakers, stylish black T-shirts, knee-pads, and bulletproof underwear inspired by the war in Iraq.  This new garb has been likened to the uniforms worn by Russian cosmonauts and space monkeys in the late 50s and early 60s.  They will also be performing their first new material in 20 years, 3 songs from the forthcoming album: “Don’t Shoot — I’m a Man,” “Fresh,” and “What We Do Is What We Do.”  These guys are such fun to watch as they perform their paramilitary musical maneuvers.  Amidst heavy security, I was allowed as the only outsider to witness a complete dress rehearsal last Thursday.  Other than a few “wardrobe malfunctions,” the hour + set went off without a hitch.

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mark_duck_27_po92As you can see, the red Energy Dome remains the same.  Note a new instrument in the DEVO arsenal: the Duck-Billed Platasynth, which features a blinding strobelight and a button-operated controller, producing a totally atonal bombardment of sound which counterpoints the usual sublime harmonics of the band’s signature sonics.  Yes, I’m a lucky man indeed, to witness the unbridled creativity of this band.

If you’d like to see one of my DEVO films, 2005’s “Uncontrollable Rehearsal,” go to Mr. Bonzai’s Films on YouTube at the links below right.   Or just click here.

Of further interest this week, I would like to introduce you to my fellow Berkleemusic Blogger Mike King, and a glimpse of a video mashup presented by Kutiman: “Mother of All Funk Chords.”  It’s a stoned gas to see the remix and hear the kaleidoscopic music he slaps together.  Click here.

And lastly, this is something that blew me away.  It’s a ten-minute “discovery” of the Beatles’ “Revolution 1 (Take 20).”  I was at Abbey Road with John, George, Ringo, and Yoko, in June of 1968 when “Revolution 9″ was being sliced and spliced together.  Ringo showed me how to make my first razor blade tape splice to create a physical “tape loop.”   I also heard the “Revolution 1″ album track, which had a slow beat.  When “Revolution,” the single, was released first (”Hey Jude,” B-side), it was the fast version and I was quite surprised.  How many “Revolutions” were there?  It really was a time of laborious experimentation, but that was in the air at the time, before the ease of today’s workstation mashapalooza.   Anyways, this is something worth listening to, but perhaps not too often. Fact or Fake?  Click here.

And if you don’t have a copy of MUSIC SMARTS, whataryawaitinfor?  Click here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

StinkyWeezilTeet March 16, 2009 at 7:40 am

I must admit, I was expecting a completely new look. Re-using the Energy Domes seems a bit of a cop out. They never did this with previous releases. But I love the jump suits. I can’t wait to hear the new material.

Sam March 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm

I’m going to see them in Dallas. This is going to be the best concert ever.

Sam March 17, 2009 at 11:15 am

Actually, they wore the energy domes for their live shows during their “OH NO!,” “Total DEVO” and “Smooth Noodle Maps” shows, so they were reused in that respect. Besides, how can you deny the defining visual that is the energy dome? That’s like taking away leather jackets from the Ramones.

StinkyWeezilTeet March 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Just saying the cover of each album featured an entirely new look. They never should have combined the yellow suits with the red Energy Domes in my opinion since that was the first album’s and fourth album ’s concepts combined (with the sleeves cut off for comfort). Not complainin’. I will take any new DEVO I can get after waiting almost a decade! I will see you in Dallas Sam.

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