Devo – Live in the Land of the Rising Sun – Review


Live in the Land of the Rising Sun (MVD)
by Lex Marburger

Ok, it must be said, that even for the ’80s, these guys were pretty weird. That’s more than evident in the pre-show video warm-up/collage that Devo presents at the beginning of their latest concert tour DVD, Live in the Land of the Rising Sun, where they show brief clips from their old videos. The surreal, uber-technological, altogether creepy vibe you get sets you up perfectly for what’s about to follow.

Even when the old men come out, chubbier than they used to be (not that that’s so rare, did you see Kim Deal on the Pixies tour? Now there’s a punk statement: It doesn’t matter what you look like to play kick ass music), they DO kick ass. After all, it’s not like they quit music after Devo broke up. They’ve gotten better, and the music is tight enough to reflect that. Not to mention, it’s not like they were not post-ironic and droll. So the old-guy-not-giving-a-shit thing works. In the video, there are some interludes that show they still have a sense of humor, so you can laugh along with seeing a band that you thought was 20-30 years past their prime. Hell, they get the joke too. They’re laughing with you.

Of course they play their hits, why else would they get back together? Not to plug a new album: Mark Mothersbaugh is too damn busy working on the next Wes Anderson flick to make another damn Devo album. But the hits are cool enough. “Satisfaction” is still the mindfuck it always has been, sodomizing Keith Richard’s musical corpse. “Uncontrollable Urge” shows why The Killers and The Strokes owe a huge debt to Devo (even though they think it’s cooler to reference Velvet Underground in interviews). And hell, “Jocko Homo” is still the greatest anti-conformist conformity song ever written (well, aside from “Freedom of Choice,” also included, which indicts themselves as well, backhandedly, making it all the more poetic). Thank god they skipped “Dr. Detroit.”

And speaking of the Stones (I was, trust me): Jagger & Co. may tour more, but Devo feels it more, they don’t prance about the stage echoing “I love you” phrases over and over again. These guys are into it, and you can tell. Living the de-evolution. They shred their yellow uniforms, revealing the black beneath (although those kneepads imply just a little bit more in these hypersexualized times then they used to), they march in step, all the shit that confused people in the ’80s, now it’s like “oh yeah! That shit is so cool!” Now, don’t you all feel like you missed out? Good, cuz you did.

Also included is a 1980 clip of “Gut Feeling,” which makes you wish you’d always been into them and had seen them back in the day. Fuckers. Oh, and there’s an interview with the new drummer, which is always good for some trivia.