A much-hyped show at Austin Music Hall was the second performance from recently reinvigorated new-wavers Devo since plans to release their first studio album in 19 years. A band that built their career on questioning traditions — musical, social and otherwise — Devo refused to lure in the crowd with familiar fare, instead opening with a slew of brand new songs and lesser-known hits. The three new songs — “Don’t Shoot, I’m A Man,” “Fresh” and “What We Do” — hinted at what the new Devo album might sound like: heavy robo-guitars, very limited modern synths and pulsing beats that are more machine-man than man-machine; especially since drummer Josh Freese gives everything the unique heft he lends to bands like A Perfect Circle and Nine Inch Nails.
Devo’s stiff movements and matching jumpsuits have always scoffed the idea of “stage presence,” but the visuals for this show mocked it. Using tiny cameras posted everywhere and a giant LCD display the size of a movie screen, Devo rebroadcasted themselves 30 feet high in the most unflattering angles possible. Microphone cameras shot directly up their noses, cameras pointing upwards from the floor made them look chubby and distorted. Thought as one concession to stardom, the band still performed their crossover smash, “Whip It” #8212; albeit buried in the middle of the set. The presence of “Whip It” inspired Mark Mothersbaugh to toss of a few of their trademark red “energy dome” hats into to the crowd — each of which, through some feat of physics involved in their ziggurat shape, flew incredibly far.
“Don’t Shoot, I’m A Man” (new song)
“What We Do” (new song)
“Fresh” (new song)
“Girl U Want”
“Secret Agent Man”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
“Smart Patrol”/”Mr. DNA”
“Gates Of Steel”
“Devo Corporate Anthem”
“Freedom Of Choice”