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November 16, 2009

Concert review: Devo at the 9:30 Club

devoReal encores are hard to come by these days.

Encores used to be spontaneous. Bands would come back out if the crowd refused to leave. But over the years, encores became just another part of the show. I've seen a lot of live music in the past seven years, but I had never seen a real encore -- until last night.

Irreverent new wave (at what point do they become old wave?) mainstays Devo plowed through their landmark debut "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" in its entirety last night at the 9:30 Club.

It was the first of two shows where the band plays an entire album from start to finish at the club (the second night, featuring "Freedom of Choice" is tonight). Last night's show was sold out, at $45 per ticket.

Devo's entire performance lasted less than an hour. That's being generous. There was only 45 minutes of live music. Before the band took the stage, they played the music videos for "Secret Agent Man" and "Jocko Homo." If that wasn't an effort to soak up time, it sure felt like it.

After a couple of encore songs, the band left the stage, the house lights and music came up and roadies started unplugging the gear. But the audience wasn't about to leave ...

They had seen 45 minutes of music, and that wasn't enough. They chanted "Devo." They clapped. They didn't go anywhere. About ten minutes later, the band came back out.

"You guys are really persistent," guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh said.

You could tell they weren't planning on this second encore. Most of the guys on stage had changed into regular clothes. Apparently, someone in the audience had sent one of the band members a message on his iPhone, telling them to get back on the stage.

"I need everybody to swear an oath you never saw Devo on stage wearing street clothes," Gerald Casale said. "This is the first time. Ever."

Then they jumped into their bouncy 1981 single "Beautiful World." Lead singer Mark Motherbaugh emerged in full costume as Booji boy, a masked character who sings in falsetto. Near the end of the song, he reached into his pants and pulled out fistfuls of bouncy balls, which he hurled and bounced off the stage into the crowd. This second encore saved the night.

The rest of the show was about as tight as it could have been. Mark Mothersbaugh can still hit all the half-sung, half-urgently whooped notes, the band was firing on all cylinders. Sporting their trademark yellow jumpsuits, complete with the word Devo (as if we didn't know who they were already), they jumped up and down in unison on the album (and set) opener "Uncontrollable Urge."

Devo didn't spend much time bantering. They steamrolled from one frantic, jerky song to the next. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was as energetic and persistent as ever. The crowd was just as into the songs as the band was. Near me, a group of kids moshed. Almost everybody seemed to know the words.

The only noticeably absent was the band's biggest commercial hit, "Whip It." They'll play that one tonight. Their first encore, "Smart Patrol/Mr. D.N.A." and "Gates of Steel" was solid. But the second encore turned an otherwise good show into a great one.

(Photo by Andrew Boyle, courtesy of Devo's MySpace site)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:38 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Concert reviews


Great review! What time did they take the stage, for those thinking about going tonight? Was the opening act any good?

LiquorBoarding, I missed the opener, but Devo's show started at 9 p.m.

The opener was terrible! A man in fake beard and hair singing awful karaoke to "comedy" songs that just were NOT FUNNY! Definately one to miss!

Opener was JP Inc. Disagree with We're all Devo- while he was very odd, there were laugh out loud moments in his schtick. Worth catching.

Wow, now I want to see JP Inc. For those of you who caught JP, Inc., what time did his set go on and end?

Got a pic of them playing in street clothes which will only be viewed when I am home alone with the curtains drawn. An oath is an oath.. JP was on at 8 and done at 8:30. Worth watching to see someone handle a hostile crowd, and he has a jingle about crashing your dad's RX-7..

Sheesh, someone was cranky. Did the reviewers energy dome short out or what? The show was great, exactly as advertised. The band was tight with driving guitar and sound that left my ears still ringing a day later. I was glad it was as long as it was cos we had to drive all the way back to delaware after it was over and Im sure given there were DEVOtees from all over the USA the length and approach to the presentation seemed good to me, Are We Not Men (we are DEVO) is not a great release to try to repeat, especially considering it was what, 30 years ago? But the Band pulled it off with intensity that a lot of newer acts could learn from. While the club was a dump and the drinks overpriced, and the merchandise non existant (note to M.P.) a couple of college ladies in legalize it shirts that gyrated next to me made this old spud grin. Looking forward to the new release and an expanded tour. Duty Now!

Booji Boy was worth it alone. Said he'd been to Neverland and missed MJ...and JP Inc was funny.

I saw both shows at the 9:30 club. JP did the same thing both nights and general consensus in my areas was he stunk big time. He was trying to be creative but really was just stupid. Devo was outstanding both nights but too short! There is no excuse for a skimpy 50-60 minute concert when there is only 1 headliner playing to an audience paying full price concert tickets. They could have at least filled some time with audience banter of which there was none.

I saw both of these shows and they were both amazing. I have been a fan of Devo for many years and I have seen them live so many times I think I've lost count! These shows were right up there with the best that i have ever seen them. I'm traveling to Las Vegas to catch them at The Crown Theater( on June 19. If the show is even half as good as these show were, I will be in for a treat.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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