Devo Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto ON June 18
Published Jun 19, 2011Even though this Akron, OH collective first made their mark in the late '70s as conceptual artists and new wave originals, Devo's resurgence 33 years later is not out of place. After all, their theory of Devolution proposes that mankind is regressing, not progressing. So why not Devo too. Although older, now that they've returned to form with last year's Something for Everybody release, the ultimate geek spud boys don't have to worry about age as an obstacle. It's not as if their anti-style outfits and absurdist performances ever ventured into sex symbol territory to begin with. Kicking off the outdoor show with a mix of new and mid-'80s material, they hit the stage with their latest grey-masked outfits, effectively backed by eye-bleeding video collage. The show, however, really shifted into high gear when they donned the trademark flowerpot hats and launched into their most successful material from 1980's Freedom of Choice album, including "Girl U Want" followed by "Whip It" (thankfully not saved as a set closer). After a video narration sequence and another costume change into the classic yellow tear-away coveralls, their best material followed, appropriately centering on their influential 1978 Are We Not Men? debut. This second set started with their robotic cover of the Rolling Stones' ode to consumerism, "Satisfaction," and early career highlights "Uncontrollable Urge," "Mongoloid," "Secret Agent Man" and premier statement on Devolution, "Jocko Homo." Set closer "Gates of Steel" challenged frontman Mark Mothersbaugh's vocal range but he was able to laugh it off. The encore featured yet one more costume, a crazy orange-patterned shirt that appeared to be made up of grilling hot dog graphics. The electronic billboard mecca that is now Yonge-Dundas Square was the perfect backdrop for their "Freedom of Choice" finale, as they pelted the crowd with what seemed to be leftovers from the band's rider; freedom of choice, indeed. We are Devo.