They may not have the lasting power as, say, The Rolling Stones, but no one can say Devo is over the hill.
Devo proved they were far from dead Saturday night to a sardined but frenzied crowd of 1,500 at the University of Utah Union Ballroom.It was the band's first visit to Salt Lake City, but the mostly college-age concertgoers knew that Devo would be the perfect group for one wild pre-Halloween bash - and few were disappointed when it was all over.
But before the show really got going strong, many fans were beginning to wonder if their intuitions had been wrong.
Union Programs, the ASUU entity that partially sponsored the show, was noticeably unorganized during a pre-show costume contest that few people were interested in. The crowd was obviously expecting Devo, but no one bothered to tell them the band would not take the stage until later. The crowd became hostile until the contest was cut short and the band introduced.
But instead of the band, the audience was shown Devo music videos. After a while, the audience was beginning to wonder if the band was even there and the hostility continued to grow.
Devo finally appeared, but unlike most bands that begin with a fanfare, Devo's beginning was very low key - so low key that the audience hardly reacted as the band members nonchalantly walked on stage and each sat down in a chair. It was as if they were arriving late to a church meeting and didn't want to attract attention.
As they sat, the band began with a slow, acoustic version of "Jocko Homo," one of the band's first songs with the lyrics that helped make them a household name in the new music revolution of the late 1970s - "Are We Not Men? We are Devo!"
But the crowd of gorillas, Elvises, George Bushes, hippies and hundreds of others dressed as college students seemed to be begging for an excuse to start the dancing. The excuse finally came.
"Jerkin' Back and Forth," "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," "That's Good" and "Girl U Want" got the audience - and the band - jumping and dancing. The once-hostile audience was now thoroughly enjoying what they had expected Devo would deliver. During "Whip It," the band's biggest hit, the audience seemed to know every word of the lyrics and drowned out the band as they sang along.
The group played two songs from their latest LP, "Total Devo." The album has received little airplay and is mediocre at best. But Devo is an institution, and fans didn't seem to care if the band had a current hit record.
During the encore, Devo re-took the stage with the famous energy domes on their heads. They introduced "Booji Boy" - a mascot that appeared in many of their early videos. A cross between JB's Big Boy and gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook, Booji Boy bantered with the audience and sang "Beautiful World" in his Michael Jackson-like voice. Not exactly something you'd see on the Grammy Awards, but it seemed quite appropriate for a Halloween party.
Earlier, lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh apologized, saying they were having problems with the equipment. After the show, he said he was also having problems with his voice. But while the problems went largely unnoticed by the audience, the band did not perform its second encore, which would have included their latest single, "Disco Dancer."
Most DEVOtees, however, left fully satisfied.