Anniversary, Video — April 18, 2023 at 8:50 pm

Devo played its first gig 50 years ago today — here’s some really grainy footage

Devo circa 1980

Devo co-founder Gerald V. Casale today commemorated the 50th anniversary of the art-pop legends’ first-ever gig — April 18, 1973, at Kent State University’s Creative Arts Festival — with a write-up of his memories, and a reminder that video actually exists of that historic performance.

“Looking back, it is important historical evidence of… something,” he writes of the grainy footage.

The group was billed as “Sextet Devo” for its live debut “to qualify for a pretentiously curated arts festival” and featured Casale on bass, his brother Bob Casale and Bob Lewis on guitar, Fred Weber on lead vocals, Rob Reisman on drums and Mark Mothersbaugh — wearing a chimpanzee mask — on keyboards.

They played to about 20 or students, Casale writes, and “slugged through mid-tempo experimentation on songs like ‘Wiggle Worm,’ ‘What Goes Up Must Come Down’ (a relatively lively blues stomp by comparison), and a folk-rock indulgence titled ‘River Run’ that showcased Bob Lewis’s country-folk leanings.”

Casale adds:

“The real highlight, though — given our critique of technology and of conformity culture — was classic Devo perfection. Mark’s Minimoog malfunctioned, and it was stuck in a loop of sine wave noise that swooped up in pitch like a warning alarm in a nuclear plant. He could only flip a switch and make it swoop down. And boy, that’s what he did for what seemed like an eternity, while we stood and watched. He kept putting his hand to his forehead, as if confused, and in pain.”

Read Casale’s full recounting of the performance on his official site — he calls it “50 Years of DEVOlution” — and, below, be sure to check out that 50-year-old footage of Devo Sextet at Kent State.







One Comment

  1. Yowzah!

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