Earlier this year it was announced that Robert "Bob2" Casale of the band Devo passed away at the age of 61 of heart failure. Shortly after the announcement Devo publicized that they were embarking upon a memorial tour during which they would play lesser known songs from what is known as their hardcore phase which spanned the years 1974.ev through 1977.ev when they still lived, worked, and performed in Akron, Ohio. Even though I'm up to my neck in shipping crates and stuff all over the place I made the time to get tickets for the show at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, California.
The stage was set simply: Movable wall segments upstage painted to resemble cinderblock walls, a bright yellow drum kit at stage right, two sitting chairs, and a bank of synthesizers at stage left. The remaining members of Devo - Josh Freese on drums, Gerald Casale on bass guitar, "Bob1" Mothersbaugh on guitar, and Mark Mothersbaugh playing keyboards took the stage as muzak versions of classic Devo songs faded away. Bob2's absence stuck out like a monkey wrench in a birthday cake as Mark Mothersbaugh sat down behind the keyboard racks, the rest of the band took up their instruments, and Mothersbaugh picked up a newspaper and began to reminisce in an "it's still happening" way about the first half of the 1970's. He spoke through a vocoder as if he'd undergone a laryngectomy and threw packs of candy cigarettes into the crowd. The concert seemed to be set in three acts: When they were first starting out playing in somebody's basement, then when they first took their now highly stylized stage personas by donning pale blue janatorial jumpsuits ("A1 Janitorial Supplies."), and finally when they started to make it big and added surreal transparent plastic face masks to their stage costumes. Near the end of the concert the peculiar and enigmatic Booji Boy took over the show to sing what was described as a "heartfelt" solo piece. At the very end of their show Alex Casale, son of Bob2 took the stage to play second guitar, one of his father's positions on stage. Alex seems to have inherited his father's talent for music because he seamlessly performed the final few songs with the rest of the band. I sincerely hope that he joins Devo but his fate is his own, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we wish him success and the best of luck in whatver endeavors he undertakes.
Duty now for the future, spuds.