SXSW: Devo, Devo, Devo


Jeremy Ylvisaker, Mark Mallman, and Dosh are really, really, excited about DEVO. Photo by Ben Clark.

After another long day in the hot sun, the majority of which was spent at the Cash Moneyapolis showcase of local musicians at the Iron Gate Lounge, I wasn't really sure that I would enjoy heading into a packed, hyped-up show at a large venue across town. But it was Devo, I told myself. How many times are you going to get the chance to see that?

As I walked into the Austin Music Hall, I was greeted by a merch table full of Devo t-shirts and $30 red plastic Devo hats. Who would pay $30 for a Devo hat? I wondered, meandering into the main room of the auditorium. The venue was laid out in a similar style as St. Paul's Roy Wilkin's Auditorium but with more sophisticated construction and sound, and once I was inside I was surprised at how many red plastic-topped heads there were in the audience.

Moving toward the center of the crowd, I immediately recognized one red-hatted man in particular: it was none other than Twin Cities electronic magician Martin Dosh. He and guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker were both proudly sporting Devo hats and wild smiles, giddy with anticipation for the impending show.

"I haven't been this excited about a show since the first time I saw the Grateful Dead," Dosh marveled, eyes wide with enthusiasm. Soon enough, I found myself in a small pocket of Minnesota musicians and writers, and everyone was buzzing about the festival and about the Devo show in particular.

By the time Devo started to play, the whole audience was bursting with energy and everyone started bobbing their heads and dancing. I wasn't terribly familiar with Devo's music before the show, but after the first song I was dancing uncontrollably, pogoing to the beat of their irresistable, catchy pop music.

It was pretty clear that a large portion of the audience was only familiar with the song "Whip It," which Devo played about four or five songs in, and a portion of the crowd started to thin out after they played it. But those who stuck around were treated to a barrage of sights and sounds, as the band projected sci-fi imagery and retro photography onto the back of the stage as they played. Other highlights included their syncopated, quirky cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Mongoloid," and "Girl U Want."