Devo ticket 1980 tour

Having grown up in Los Angeles during DEVO’S early days, I was anxious to see what their show would offer 30 years down the road. I still recall their forward-thinking outfits and stage antics when I saw them live in 1980.

At the time, they were promoting their third album, Freedom of Choice. The energy dome hats the band wore were fire-engine red, however it was their first MTV video, Jocko Homo, that shook my world. This video was SO ahead of its time!

If you were a teenager living off of the late 70’s rock stream, Devo came onto the scene in a slightly frightening manner. The Jocko Homo video featured Booji Boy, a character who appeared from time to time taking on the persona of a small boy — a freakish boy with an odd face mask.

Bob Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh - DEVO sound check

Thinking back to that time, I can’t emphasize enough how much of an impact that early video had on me. Bands such as the Talking Heads and the B-52’s were just beginning to flourish, and Devo helped to pave the way for them and other bands to enjoy parallel success.

“Thirty years ago, people said that we were cynical, that we had a bad attitude,” says Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh. “But now, when you ask people if de-evolution is real, they understand that there was something to what we were saying. It’s not the kind of thing you want to see proven right, but it does make it easier to talk about.”

“We’re inspired by reality,” says Gerald Casale, “because the world is so ridiculous and stupid. DE-EVOLUTION IS REAL.”

I knew where Devo were staying in Vancouver. But I’m not *that* kind of fan (admittedly tempted!).

With media access to the Live at Squamish music festival, I had hoped to be able to interview the band, however final word from their management indicated that I wouldn’t be lucky this weekend. So you can imagine my surprise when pulling into the festival parking lot on Saturday morning to the distinct sound of lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh working through the band’s sound check!

Fortunately, Devo’s sound check was running beyond its given 9:30 to 10:30 time slot. We headed straight for the Stawamus Stage and I proceeded to shoot video and photos while I had the chance. It didn’t matter one iota to me that they weren’t dressed in their trademark Devo gear (which changes several times throughout their set).

The band is not nearly through being cool. During sound check, Mark sang on stage wearing stylish mirrored shades, while the band rehearsed portions from their latest CD, Something For Everybody. Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man) (one of the CD’s first break-out tunes) contains several catchy hooks and proves that the band members still have a lot of creative juice left in them. Shivers crept up my spine when they launched into Girl U Want and then Uncontrollable Urge.

Saturday morning at sound check

It was as though we’d received a private concert. Only a few dozen onlookers were present, the sun was shining, and the gorgeous natural backdrop of Squamish only served to heighten the experience.

At this point I should mention that the festival included a collection of talent including Maurice Ryan, Said The Whale, Tennessee Three, The Dudes, We Are The City, and Matthew Good (view photos of our day at Live at Squamish here).

Devo merchandise, media passes A young Devo fan watching the sound check

I spotted several Devotees in the crowd (of all ages), and interviewed one fan (wearing the now-blue Energy Dome hat), asking him to describe his first exposure to Devo.

Before Devo took to the stage, a giant LED screen began cycling through a collage of images from their early days, getting the crowd excited for the first notes to begin. I spotted other fans wearing some pretty offbeat outfits worthy of a few photos, but by then all focus was on the stage.

Bob Mothersbaugh Mark Mothersbaugh Bob Mothersbaugh Gerald Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh

The 70-minute set featured a couple of their latest tunes from Something For Everybody, Fresh and Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man).

They soon dove into their glory days with Peek-A-Boo, Girl U Want, Mongoloid, Whip It, Jocko Homo, Gates of Steel, and even brought out Booji Boy for their final encore, Beautiful World.

Booji Boy performing Beautiful World encore

This was a fantastic concert, given the band members are all (excepting new drummer Josh Freese) 60+ in age. Devo perform less frequently these days.

Bob Mothersbaugh and Booji Boy

Their next appearance will be in Phoenix on September 18, performing at Arizona Fall Frenzy, for those in the mood for a road trip. Oddly enough, they’ll be performing mid-afternoon, and headlining band will be Weezer.

Devo is Los Angeles-based and comprise Gerald and Bob Casale, Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, and Josh Freese. Gerald Casale is credited as group founder in Akron, Ohio, 1973.


  • Comment by Jerry — September 6, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    Great photos here. Wish I could have gone but I’m in Toronto till this afternoon for the holiday weekend. Thanks for posting 🙂

  • Comment by Susan — September 6, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    Well I WAS there and man did they rock! I can’t believe you still have your concert ticket from 1980. I think I saw them in San Francisco around 1983 – can’t even remember. Should have kept my ticket. Live at Squamish was sooo fun. Can’t wait for next year’s lineup!

  • Comment by Matt — September 6, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

    That was an amazing concert by a long-time fave band of mine as well. How lucky of you to have seen them in 1980. Jealous! I was a baby back then : )

  • Comment by Natasha — September 6, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

    They were wicked!!!

  • Comment by Ric Mondragon — September 6, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Ariane, I was at that same Santa Monica Civic Auditorium show as your ticket stub shows at the top of your article! Great article! “The beginning was the end… of everything now!”

  • Comment by arianec — September 7, 2010 @ 8:20 am

    Ric –

    Thanks! I still regret not having seen that early Pretenders show at the Civic. So many shows back then to think back to. I think it was you and Elliot Siegel that may have caught the Duran Duran show at the Roxy on a school night (price was $9.50! – expensive in the day too)…

    Good to hear from you!

  • Comment by arianec — September 7, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    Susan –

    That may have been the Oh No! It’s Devo tour. I’m guessing The Warfield?

  • Comment by Jordan T — September 7, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    I was about 2 feet away from catching one of their yellow suits! Hilarious watching their set. I’d only seen them on Saturday Night Live before. Live at Squamish was loaded with great bands, Devo being among the best 🙂 Thanks for posting the great shots.

  • Comment by Keith Simon — September 9, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

    Love the Booji Boy. A modern update from the mid-70’s mask, but fun nevertheless. We are Devo!!

  • Comment by Annabelle — September 10, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    Are We Not Men! We Are Devo! So glad I finally got to see them. I wasn’t even born during the time you went (ticket stub!). LOL, I’m sure the early days must have been ridiculously cool!

    Great photos btw.

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