Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beth’s Music Moment: Devo and Blondie Whip It To Shreds tour

Beth and Shane leavingOn Tuesday afternoon, it was time to head south to Carmel, Indiana (just north of Indianapolis) for our third and final September concert. It was a little bit overcast, but the temperature was nice enough that we didn’t need jackets. As you can see, Spudboy Shane was ready for the show, sporting his spiffy energy dome. We had an uneventful and pleasant trip—no flat tires for Joan Jetta this time, YAY!—and we listened to Devo and Blondie CDs as we motored along.

Our first stop was for a bite to eat at a Mexican place, Cancun, which was close to the venue. Decent food, very fast service, and mighty tasty margatitas! (Typo intentional...I’m not sure why Matt and I started calling them that. It’s like me and my martoonis.)

Next it was a matter of finding the venue, which we were able to do without too much trouble. This is a new complex called the Center for Performing Arts, and one of the buildings is called The Palladium. That’s where the concert was. Holy cow, what a gorgeous venue! The floors looked like hardwood (although they may have been something easier to take care of...I don’t know), the hall was mainly white with touches of blue, and the box seats rose in three levels on both sides. None of us had been to this venue before, and we were duly impressed. I had gotten us pretty good seats, maybe eight rows back, and even little me was able to see well (although I had to look around the tall guy in front of me). We agreed that we would go back there in a heartbeat. Carmel is a pretty well-to-do city, and it shows in their new arts complex. Very nice!

The show started right on time, and Devo was first. The set was similar to when we saw them in 2010: a few songs from their latest album, and most of the classics. I was super happy when they did one of my all-time favorite Devo songs, one that they didn’t do at the 2010 show: “Going Under.” I don’t know what it is about that song, but I just love it. They also did “Satisfaction,” which they didn’t do in ‘10. So I was pleased to get to hear them do those two songs. The highlights for me were probably “Going Under,” “Uncontrollable Urge,” and “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA.” UU has the cool moment when they all come to the front of the stage and bounce to the beat. The latter song is nothing less than brilliant, with the first part a bit of a sing-along (“‘Fraid nobody around here comprehends my potato...guess I’m just a spudboy looking for that real tomato”), and then kicking into the second part, with the audience shouting “We shove the poles in hole!” and with spastic keyboards and rockin’ guitar. It’s wild, and it’s always a rave-up.

Let me just say here that people can make fun of the aging band members all they want, but let me tell you something: these guys can kick it. Shane and I have loved them since the ‘70s, when we first saw them on SNL, but we never got to see them live until 2010. We discussed how much they surprised us with their rockitudiness. I was expecting a keyboard-heavy band, and of course, you get a lot of that. They’re Devo, after all. But the drums are heavy and fast (Josh Freese, formerly of Nine Inch Nails and Guns ‘n Roses, does a fantastic job), and so are the guitars. No lie...these guys ROCK HARD.

And let me say again that they always have been subversive. Devo was born out of the Kent State shooting, which was witnessed by founding member Jerry Casale. His and Mark Mothersbaugh’s concept of de-evolution made for some pretty biting satire and social commentary. It’s hard not to look around at what is going on lately, especially in politics, and think, “They were right about it. We ARE devolving.” They were way ahead of their time. They have not stopped the satire, and their latest song is titled “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro! (Remember Seamus),” about poor Seamus Romney strapped to roof of the family car. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that song. Maybe next time! I will definitely try to see them whenever they play nearby. This is a band I will never tire of seeing. One of the unsung hero bands of rock and roll, in my opinion. Those of us who have loved them all along have definitely cemented their cult status, but they’re not exactly a household name!

BlondieAfter a brief intermission, Blondie was up next. Debbie came out in a gold lamé trench coat, and still looks fabulous! She sounds great, too. In fact, I’d say that her voice sounded every bit as good as, if not better than, when I saw them twice previously. I haven’t listened to their latest album, “Panic of Girls,” as much as I have their older stuff, so I wasn’t as familiar with those songs. I need to remedy that, because they’re good. They played a nice mix of their hits and their newer stuff, and both were well-received. I would have to say that the highlight for me was “Atomic,” which is odd, because I recall not liking that as much as other songs when it first came out. It’s one of the few songs that has really grown on me over the years, and they do it incredibly well live. There is Clem Burke’s manic drumming (he’s one of the best drummers ever, in my opinion), and then there is the way Debbie’s vocals soar to the line where the audience shouts along with her, “Ohhh your hair is beautiful!” It’s a pretty awesome moment, and I’m smiling as I think about it!

The band sounded fantastic, and an excellent addition is guitarist Tommy Kessler. Very, very good. But as always, Debbie Harry is the focal point. I told Shane that she cracks me up, and it is just so cool, the way she makes these faces...hard to explain, but she was always such an incredibly beautiful woman, but she still has this New York punk attitude. When singing “Rip Her To Shreds,” she can sneer like nobody’s business. Haha! She IS a rock goddess.

From the stageSo after a couple of hours of great music, dancing, and singing, the show was over. We were hoping that the two bands might join each other onstage, but that was not in the cards. No matter—it was just a great show and so much fun to see two of my all-time favorite bands in one beautiful venue! They were playing one more show in Chicago the following night, and Shane and I both considered heading up for it! But everyone had to work on Thursday, and I think we all needed a bit of a break. But we agreed that we’ll try to see Devo whenever they come around our way. Definitely a fun band to see live.

On the way home, we stopped and got beverages. Coffee for the guys, and a Starbucks energy drink for me. That was a bit of a mistake. It was fun on the way home, because although Ken dozed off, Shane and Matt and I had fun playing air keyboards and singing along to Devo songs. I was more than a little wired, and ended up staying up until after 4 am. Ugh. At least now I know that a Starbucks energy drink will give me a major boost of wide awake energy if I ever need it!

Carry on, Spuds! Thanks Spud


  1. You write a great review! I feel as if I were at the concert. Don't know much about Devo's music but I love the dome hats and Shane wears his very well.Reminds me of some flower pots that I have! :) Love Blondie and it's good to hear that Debbie Harry is still in fine voice.

  2. It was a great September concert tour!!!

  3. Two of the three songs you mentioned by Devo, "Going Under" and "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA", are two songs that really resonate with me. I remember I first saw Devo perform the former on "Friday" and the second was a song that encompassed my sophmore year of high schoo..!

    Blondie always left me "Hangin' on the Telephone". Glad you guys enjoyed the show!!

  4. devo was my first exposure to non-conformist culture (the song whip it) was popular when i was in 5th/6th grade. i loved blondie when i was a little girl, seeing her on 'solid gold' and other shows when heart of glass was popular. i am so glad you had a good time!


  5. OMG! I'm very envious Beth. It looks like a good crowd. Love the slide show.:)


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?