Sunday, November 08, 2009

Gates Of Steel

The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
November 7, 2009

Devo marched into San Francisco for a two night stand to perform their seminal debut album on the 1st night and their breakthrough Freedom Of Choice album the next night. The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and I found myself with a +1 for the 2nd night and for the 2nd time in 3 days I found myself seeing a band from Ohio.

All Music Geeks know that the band's classic Live EP from 1980 was recorded at The Warfield in S.F.. Although I grew up during the Devo Generation I was not a fan as a kid; in 1980 when Freedom Of Choice came out my favorite bands were Cheap Trick, Van Halen, and Black Sabbath... but I came to be a fan as I grew older and wiser. The last time I saw Devo was way back at Lollapalooza 1996 when they shared the main stage with Metallica, Soundgarden, The Ramones, Rancid, and Screaming Trees. In hindsight, that was a helluva bill..

Fast forward to the 21st Century and this was probably the easiest show of the entire year for Umlaut... Lori Acid King and I breezed through the overbearing Regency security check and got to the Will Call table... where the woman acted as if she knew me (I'm sorry.. I didn't remember her!) and complimented my Cheap Trick shirt before handing me the passes from my guest list envelope... Then we got a beer and found seats at the rail in something called the "Reserved Seating Area - Proper Pass Required" section directly above the soundboard. Fucking perfect; all shows should be this easy.

I've never seen the floor of The Regency as packed as it was tonight; it was solid humans from wall to wall and I was thankful to be above all of that, but the mood in the room was nothing but happy. The houselights went down at 10:00pm and the vintage music videos from the Freedom Of Choice era were shown on the screen behind the stage: 'Girl U Want', 'Whip It' (best MTV video ever?), and 'Freedom Of Choice'... As soon as the last video played the band came onstage and a Card Guy walked to the front of the stage holding a sign that read "Track 1" and the band launched into 'Girl U Want'... and for the next 35 minutes Devo rolled through the Freedom Of Choice album, with each song being introduced by the Card Guy and his signs. FUNNY! 'Gates Of Steel' is one of Umlaut's favorite songs, so of course that was my favorite of the night.

'Gates Of Steel'

It was a solid performance... fueled by nostalgia of course... but it was solid fun. After the main set, the band returned for an encore of 'Be Stiff' and 'Beautiful World'. The latter featured an appearance by Booji Boy, who told the crowd that if Michael Jackson could dig his way out of his grave he'd agree with the song. I think we'd all like to believe that, right?

Devo's set ran 55 minutes.. The houselights came up.. I drove Lori Acid King home.. I stopped at Taqueria Cancun to get a burrito to go.. I docked the Prius back at Casa de Umlaut at exactly 11:37pm.. It was an insanely easy surgically precise night. THANKS to Tour Manager Doug for sorting my +1 even though he's in the middle of conquering Europe again.

Trivia: Yes, this is the same Tour Manager Doug whose first concert was Devo on the Freedom Of Choice Tour at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, CA (a show that is available on DVD!) and who can be seen wearing one of his Devo shirts circa 1984 in the Slayer box set.

Tour Manager Doug and his Devo shirt with Slayer, Exodus, and Suicidal Tendencies
(Pic from Slayer's Soundtrack to the Apocalypse box set)

If you bought one of every Devo merch item you would have paid around $290. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I can't remember the last time I've seen a non-festival headlining band play such a short set, but you can't talk shit about Devo! Everyone leaving the venue seemed happy from the show... and that's all that matters.

"A man is real... not made of steel.."