Devo Paramount Theatre, Oakland CA - October 8, 2005

Devo Paramount Theatre, Oakland CA - October 8, 2005
Mention Devo to most people and you're bound to get the same reaction: "The guys who wear the flowerpots and sing 'Whip It'?" For those of us who know them as a truly leading edge punk/new wave band - one of the first to fuse multimedia and rock music - who never got the respect they so rightly deserved, it's frustrating to the point of maddening. True, 25 years later they are still wearing flowerpots and singing "Whip It," but as their rare live appearances like the one in this cavernous art deco theatre demonstrate, they really are so much more. With a set list that featured material largely from their Brian Eno-produced 1978 debut Q: Are We Not Men?, A: We Are Devo! and the 1980 commercial breakout Freedom of Choice, the brothers Mothersbaugh and Casale (two of each) and drummer Josh Freese (on loan from the Vandals) took to the stage following a brief video montage and introduction from band patriarch General Boy. Decked out in tear-away yellow hazmat suits and the iconic flower pot-shaped Energy Domes (which are actually a hybrid clash of first and third album costumes, but who's counting?), they wasted no time getting down to the business at hand. Being a lot greyer around the temples and heftier around the waists was no real impediment to their willingness to put on the kind of energetic show that they've always been known for. Vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh took a header off a railing separating the orchestra pit from the front row fans while asking the ultimate question about de-evolution in "Jocko Homo" and guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh was nearly pulled into the audience as they ripped the strings from his guitar during the frantic finale of "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA." Sadly, at just 80 minutes, the set didn't do their vast catalogue justice but it did serve as a reminder of what a band that most people would write off as a one-hit novelty act are really about.