Back in the 20th Century, ümlaut was a xeroxed fanzine that existed from 1992-95. Despite limited distribution, loyal readers ranged from coast to coast and included Rock Stars of various credibility, including Neurosis, Sonic Youth, Melvins, and Metallica. This 21st Century version of ümlaut has been ranting since 2004 and is also the co-author of the book Murder In The Front Row.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Devo The Fox Theater, Oakland, California June 28, 2014
This show represented THE most full circle thing ever for Umlaut! Flashback to 1984 in Berkeley, California...
The teenager wearing the DEVO tee is Tour Manager Doug with members of Slayer, Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies, and Possessed. At the time Doug was a member of Slayer's first road crew. It's an iconic photo for many reasons, but for me because Tour Manager Doug's favorite band was Devo and he wore that t-shirt to practically every Metal show. He suffered the abuse of his Metal peers who did not appreciate Devo but he never wavered from his support. Fast forward almost 30 years later and that photo and friendship led to this on a Saturday night in Oakland here in the 21st Century:
This is what happens
when one of your oldest friends ends up working for the first band he
ever saw live in 1980 and who are also his favorite band. Yes, that teenage Tour Manager Doug from 1984 is spending part of his Summer issuing backstage passes and looking after Devo here in the 21st Century! The Fox Theater is not far from where that 1984 photo was taken as well. Like I said, it's the most
full circle thing EVER! A-MA-ZING!
The pre-show backstage scene was very quiet and it took me a moment to realize it was Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale who were floating around the room. Sadly, with the passing of Bob2 in February, this brief tour could very well be the final trek for Devo. What impressed me is that on this tour the band is only performing songs from their formative years of 1974-77 and none of their 80's hits that made them famous.
Most other bands would simply go back out on the road and play the hits, no matter how painful it might be so soon after losing a founding member and brother. Not Devo. This tour is a tribute to their salad days when they were weird kids in Ohio trying to figure it all out. It's a nod back to a time when things were innocent and life probably felt indestructible for them. The Devo-ised version of 'Satisfaction', 'Be Stiff', 'Uncontrollable Urge', and 'Jocko Homo' were my obvious touchstones that kept me engaged with the show, but I literally didn't know the rest of the songs... and I was fine with that. Umlaut is not a hardcore Devo fan but this show was charming, emotional, and simply great. I vicariously fed off the energy and excitement of the fans around me who understood the theme of the show and embraced it completely. To be honest, I don't think any of the most important bands from my salad days could cause me to react like that; I'm just that jaded unfortunately. Honesty is my only excuse.
The night closed with a song called 'Clockout' that was being performed live for the first time on this tour... and joining the band in Oakland (and I believe in Los Angeles the next night) was Bob2's son Alex filling in for his dad.
How full circle is that? Bittersweet.. but still full circle. I was introduced to Alex Bob2 Jr. briefly after the show and evidently he's a huge SLAAAYEER fan! FULL. CIRCLE.
If you bought one of every Devo merch item you would have paid around $150. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. It was a perfectly surgical evening. A big THANKS to Tour Manager Doug... and Peace In Rest, Bob2... and long live de-evolution!