Devo: Live in the Land of the Rising Sun
Devo, formed in 1972, was one of the weirdest, wildest, yet arguably deepest of the new wave bands that came to prominence in the late ’70s/early ’80s. They attacked a me-too society, while garnishing their message with the elaborate inside joke of “de-evolution.”
Often identified with their one big hit, “Whip It,” it’d have been easy to dismiss Devo as a novelty act. But underneath the goofy costumes and pioneering videos was a tight, kick-ass rock band with a love of electronics — from synths to toys. Despite having a significant influence on many of today’s musicians, Devo was axed by vision-impaired label execs and sort of petered out in the ’80s, their members going on to other (and highly successful) endeavors.
In 2003 Devo (with all the original members) returned to Japan, where they remain not only revered, but understood; this DVD captures their Tokyo concert. There’s no lip-synching, pandering to the audience, scantily clad dancers, or elaborate staging — just five somewhat older, somewhat heavier, but no less kick-ass musicians putting their hearts into music only they could make.
If you liked Devo the first time around, this will remind you why. If you’re discovering them for the first time, this DVD conveys only part of the Devo phenomenon — check the video montage at the beginning for a glimpse into the rest of it.
Ultimately, though, just listen to “Gates of Steel” a few times, and see if it doesn’t convey emotions that no other band has addressed in quite the same way.