Devo – June 23rd – Summit Music Hall

DSC_2821Photos by Johne Edge

The Scene: The Summit Music Hall marquee is adorned with dancing musical notes and a trio of rocket ships blasting off for good times. When the doors to the Summit Music Hall opened at 8:00 the line stretched up 19th avenue, around the corner and down Market.  The DEVOted were out adorned in their plastic power domes.  Legend has it that the Dome Hat collects energy that escapes from the crown of the human head and pushes it back into the Medula Oblongata for increased mental energy.  Not sure if Devo founding member Jerry Casales really had this in mind when they came up with the design or not, but I can tell you that the line to get in was abuzz with energy and anticipation for the nights show.

Devo: Denver was one of ten stops on the “Hardcore Devo” tour that was to celebrate forty years of music.  The tour ended up a little bittersweet though as guitarist and founding member Bob Casale had recently passed away on February 17, 2014 at the age of 61.  The tour is dedicated to the memory of Bob, whose family will receive a portion of all the shows’ proceeds.

I was still doing power slides on my Big Wheel when the theory of DEVOlution, or backward evolution began in a basement in Akron, Ohio.  Two sets of brothers began exploring music and became the band Devo.   Discordant Garage Rock songs featured unusual synthetic instrumentation and time signatures.  Devo was probably the first non-progressive rock band to incorporate a synthesizer full time.  Driving bass lines and jangly guitars also filled the Hardcore Years of 1974 – 1977.  These songs were raw, like listening to a Stooges album with Star Trek blaring on the television in the background.

The Mothersbaughs brothers, Mark on guitar and Bob on bass, took the stage with vocalist/keyboardist Jerry  Casales around 9:15.  They were joined by Vandals drummer Josh Freese.  The first half of the show would be played sitting.  The band opened up with “Mechanical Man,” its Space Odyssey like synthesizer and bass lines breaking the silence.  In between songs Jerry’ sardonic humor kept things going.  At one time he handed out candy cigarettes to the kids in the audience reminding the crowd that in the 70’s it was ok to smoke.  Other songs including “Auto Mo Down, “and “Space Girl Blues” were played in the first half of the set.

During the second half of the show the band got rid of the stools and donned the blue jumpsuits that the band had worn for a couple of years in the early 70’s.  They also wore clear plastic masks and hard hats.  My favorite songs in the second half included “Jocko Homo,” and the Rolling Stones cover, “Satisfaction.”

The DEVOted were treated to a piece of musical history, but as the house lights came up they were not ready to leave.  Even as security tried to herd people towards the doors, chants for DEVO continued.  Finally ten minutes later the band re-emerged already changed into their street clothes.  “We weren’t going to do this,” said Bob, “but you won’t leave.”  The band dedicated the last song to the fallen Casales brother and finished a perfect set with “Mongoloid.”

Energy: A
Musicianship: A
Sound: A
Stage Presence: B
Set/Light Show: B+

Overall: A


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Who Is Johne Edge

Wherever the music is, you'll find me with my camera, shooting on street corners, from barstools at clubs, from the side of the stage at theaters, and from photo pits in places like Red Rocks. Clicking away, trying to capture the emotive essence of music, and all those moments that we forget because of one too many Pabst Blue Ribbons.