Suburban Robots Monitoring Reality!
Photo by James Bunoan DEVO
TONY HAWK BOOM BOOM HUCK JAM
ARROWHEAD POND, ANAHEIM
SATURDAY, OCT. 26
For a bunch of mutants who must be pushing 60 (bassist-and-then-college-student Jerry Casale witnessed the May 1970 Kent State shootings firsthand), Devo still gots it—they don't sound a day over, um, 35! Too bad people still don't get them: even stuck as background music for a bunch of professional BMX jockeys curb-jobbing themselves into bloodiness, they sounded great, but nobody seemed to notice. Mark Mothersbaugh's voice hasn't frayed a bit, but he'd still have to hustle to be heard above explosions of extreme-sports-related applause that kept interrupting songs people really should have paid more attention to. Seriously, people: Devo—administered aurally with the proper supervision—will repair more brain damage than a whole bucketful of fetal stem cells, and if there's any demographic in this world that's up to its corpus callosum in brain damage, it's the extreme-sports crowd. (Excepting Lincoln Ueda, who spent some time in a men's room with us before the show and spoke quite articulately about politics in his native Brazil.) They spit out the mega-hits (or as mega as Devo ever hit) early, comfortably conscious that no one but us—plus two kids from Manhattan Beach and a guy who flew in from Canada just to see a 40-minute set—was gonna keep an eye on the stage once the skaters starting hurting themselves again. "Whip It" (What does the "it" in "Whip It" refer to? "Stupidity," says Mark) bounced in as the third song to indifferent crowd reaction; "Smart Patrol" and "Gut Feeling" sounded a notch better than we'd expected once they bounced off an arena full of prepubescent skate babies and soccer moms. Big fun: Bob I's string-shredding guitar solo—what an effect! What a facial expression!—and always-game drummer Josh Freese (original drummer Alan Myers devolved into a plumber in Ohio sometime in the mid-'80s, Devo told us earlier) in Devo drag, cranking out an admirably solid backbeat. All things considered—and by all things, we mean guitarist Bob II's very considered Booji-belly—Devo is not too discouragingly far from the outer spacers they were 20 or (gulp) 30 years ago. Next time they play the county fair, we're right up front. Swear. (Chris Ziegler)
BLUE CAFÉ, LONG BEACH
MONDAY, OCT. 28
Always a hoot to wander into the Blue Café's New Music Mondays and glimpse conventioneers milling about, maybe expecting to see some of the blues upon which the club built its rep, yet content as long as they're gripping Demon Alkyhawl in their tight little hands. Apparently, some type of landfill gathering was afoot across the street at the Long Beach Convention Center, and this was the room for unwinding after a long day of trash talk.
Landfill junkies are an uptight bunch, though, the kind whose working lives are immeasurably enriched by things like Dockers Fridays. So they definitely didn't know what to make of the Bolides; their white lab smocks; their mini-TV with the wide, gawking eyeball; or the mysterious Bolide who handed out surgical masks to the crowd before their set. (One landfillian just stared at him as he trekked back to the stage, looking like he'd just been given a sackful of turd—bury that in your landfill, bucko!)
Once the Bolides cranked up, though, some of the landfill people surprisingly chose not to make an immediate run for the smoking patio, perhaps swayed by the band's delicious blend of surf guitars, Cramps roots punk, filthied-up fuzzbop and electro-screamcore. The Bolides out-handjobbed the Strokes! Were more organic than the Vines! Paler than the White Stripes! Itchier than the Hives! Like the greatest garage band you've yet to hear, replete with bizarre organ freakouts, arcane electronic noodlings and random esoterica—dig the leg-splitting bassist and the sweetly tweaked grunts and distorted gronks that fluttered from their amps during their first tune, "Lead Vest."
Yet not all were as pleased as we. One paunchy landfillian stormed in from the patio to rescue his buddy, who seemed to be enjoying the Bolides. He shot his partner-in-grime a look that seemed to say, "What're you thinkin', actin' like you're 20 again and enjoyin' these loud goddamn kids. You want music, you'll wait for the next Jimmy Buffett show like the rest of us!" And with that, the potential Bolide recruit stuffed his temporarily freed soul back into his sad-sack slacks and shuffled sadly outside behind his keeper, as if being dragged by an invisible leash. True tragedy.
Missed the Von Steins, unfortunately, as we had to awaken early the next morning to stake out a primo spot along the Angels victory parade route. Will they forgive us? Will they still want to be on our next OC Weekly local-band compilation CD? Along with the Bolides? Find out in December! (Rich Kane)
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