Monthly Archives: June 2014
These day’s, it’s pretty common for veteran bands to dedicate entire shows to a single album. Everyone from the Pixies to Cheap Trick to Kraftwerk have jumped on that particular nostalgia bandwagon. What’s rarer is for bands to focus an entire tour around their earliest, most obscure material. But that’s exactly what DEVO have chosen to do for their Hardcore DEVO Live tour, which is based entirely on songs they wrote and/or recorded before the release of their first album, 1978’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! And judging from the audience response at the Wiltern Theatre here in Los Angeles last night, it was a smart decision. Turns out plenty of DEVO fans are super-excited to hear the band playing material that they mostly haven’t performed live in over 30 years.
There was no opening act, so the band took the stage promptly at 8:30 p.m.: Original DEVO-ers Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale, plus drummer Josh Freese, who’s been with the band more or less continuously since 1996. The stage set was cleverly made up to look vaguely like the Ohio basement in which the band started, with backdrops painted to look like cinderblocks, topped by translucent panels doubling as dirty windows. Mark sat at his keyboard reading a newspaper. “Nixon says he’s resigning,” he announced, his voice distorted to sound robotic and cartoonish. “I think 1974 is gonna be a good year.” Then he proceeded to hurl packs of cigarettes into the audience. “Got any Chesterfields?” Jerry asked. “I already gave away the one pack,” Mark quipped.
With the scene set and the hijinks out of the way, the band launched into “Mechanical Man,” the first track from the highly sought-after Hardcore Devo compilation that collected all their early demos onto CD for the first time back in 1990. From there the band proceeded to tear many of Hardcore Devo‘s best-known tracks: “Auto Modown/Space Girls Blues,” “I Been Refused,” “Bamboo Bimbo,” plus a few true obscurities like the bluesy “Beehive,” which someone at the Denver stop of this tour was smart enough to capture on film:
Serious DEVO fans probably also known this song from Jerry Casale’s Jihad Jerry side project, which revived the track in 2006. Throughout the Hardcore show, it was fun to see Jerry taking lead vocals duties as often as Mark—a reminder that, in the band’s early days, they didn’t have a true frontman. Bob 1 got a few turns on the mic, too, including “Baby Talkin’ Bitches,” one of several guitar-heavy early DEVO tracks that reveal the band’s roots in Midwestern proto-punk:
About midway through their set, the band got up from their stools and changed costumes, putting on the blue “workmen’s” suits and blue hardhats that served as their earliest band uniforms. From there, they launched into some better-known early tracks that definitely got the crowd more revved up (up until that point, apart from the one guy dancing like a lunatic directly in front of me, it was clear that most in attendance weren’t very familiar with the material).
This was the part of the show that included their brilliantly off-kilter cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” as well as several tracks from the 1974-77 era that eventually found their way onto Are We Not Men? and Duty Now for the Future: “Timing X,” “Uncontrollable Urge,” “Jocko Homo,” “Gut Feeling.” The crowd also knew many of the words to “Be Stiff,” a longtime live favorite, and “Fountain of Filth,” a punk rave-up with a shout-along chorus that could almost pass for a Ramones song. (In the video below, you can see Jerry wearing the creepy, transparent doll masks they donned earlier for “Jocko Homo,” another nod to the theatrics of their early days.)
They only played a two-song encore, but it was a pretty great two songs. First, Mark Mothersbaugh came out dressed as Booji Boy, one of the band’s early representations of devolution. This time around, he was dressed up sort of like a Teletubbie, in a pink hooded jumpsuit with cartoon eyes drawn over the hood. He also came onstage pushing a walker, perhaps an ironic nod to the fact that DEVO first introduced the character nearly 40 years ago.
After Mark’s solo performance of “Booji Boy’s Funeral” and “U Got Me Bugged”—definitely two of the weirdest songs in the entire DEVO catalog—the entire band came back out to wrap up the show with a rousing rendition of “Clockout,” featuring Bob Casale’s son Alex on bass. (A song they hadn’t played live since 1977, according to Jerry.) It was one of several nods to Bob 2 (and to late drummer Alan Myers) sprinkled throughout the evening, all of which felt fitting but never heavy-handed.
Overall, the band did a remarkably good job of keeping the show from lapsing into one big nostalgia-fest. The sheer rawness of the early DEVO songs probably helped in that regard, but so did the high-energy performances of the band. Even if they need to sit on stools these days to make it through a 90-minute set, the surviving Casale and the brothers Mothersbaugh can still rock out pretty convincingly for a bunch of guys well into their sixties. In my blurry Instagram photos, you’d swear they haven’t aged a day.
Since there was no opening act, the show ended on the early side, around 10:00 p.m. I heard a few protests from the crowd—a few people had probably hoped they would play some more “hits” in the encore—but as far as I’m concerned, the Hardcore DEVO show delivered exactly as promised. For the truly hardcore DEVO fans in attendance, especially that one dancing lunatic right in front of me (“How can you not to dance to this?” he shouted to no one in particular during “Ono”), it might have been their last chance to hear their heroes resurrect those songs they created back when they were a bunch of restless art students in an Akron basement.
We’re starting off the week with a flashback to 1984. While I was listening to The Cars and trying to grow my hair into a New Wave mullet, an experimental British musician who recorded under the name Fad Gadget was working on his latest album Gag in Berlin, continuing his attempts to combine pop and New Wave with industrial music. This time around, he was able to enlist some pretty cool collaborators: German industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten. He was so appreciative of their contributions to one track that he named the song “Collapsing New People,” a nod to the English translation of their name, “Collapsing New Buildings.”
According to Dangerous Minds, this video is from a performance of “Collapsing New People” on a show called TV Playback in 1984. Fad Gadget was famous for dramatic, self-abusive stage antics like ripping out his own pubic hairs and tossing them into the audience. Since this was television, I guess he decided to settle for getting tarred and feathered instead.
Today’s weirdness comes to use from reader Jake (not to be confused with TWBITW co-founder Jake, who’s passed out under my desk as I type this). It’s a piece of music featuring a unique and not nearly famous enough instrument called the daxophone, performed by its inventor, a German luthier named Hans Reichel. It sounds a bit like a ballet for frogs, and every time we play it, we can’t stop laughing.
The daxophone works with a combination of contact microphones and friction: a thin piece of wood gets attached to a tripod, and from there, the musician uses a thicker block of wood and a violin bow to change the vibrational frequency of the wooden blade. Think of it as the overachieving offspring of a musical saw and a lap steel guitar. Different blade shapes also produce different tones, and Reichel produced dozens of them, all of which stand as beautiful artworks unto themselves.
Reichel passed away in 2011 at the age of 62, but his daxophone lives on; although he never mass-produced the instrument, he made the plans for it available for free on his website (in the downloads section), so other woodworkers and instrument makers could make their own versions of it.
For some reason, most of the really weird shit people are sending us these days is from North Carolina. Turns out there’s more to the Tarheel State than college hoops and vinegary barbecue.
The latest weirdo from the state that also gave us Your Fuzzy Friends, Surgical Vacations and Weird Band Poll contenders Emily Brontësaurus is a redneck singer-songwriter name of Andy Fenstermaker, who goes by the nom de weird of Andy the Doorbum. Most of Andy’s earlier stuff, as far as we can tell, is more quirky than weird, in sort of a Mountain Goats meets Tom Waits way. But he went off the fucking deep end with his latest video, “Evocation: The Beast of Change,” which we understand is the first track off his coming-soon album The Fool.
P.S. Our thanks to reader Eel for sending the “Evocation” video our way. You haunt our dreams, Eel.
At its most extreme, the kawaii style of Japanese dance-pop can get pretty bizarre; just look at our favorite purveyor of the genre, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. But what happens when non-Japanese pop artists try to put their own spin on it? In the case of New Zealand duo Doprah, the results are even more bizarre.
Doprah, made up of singer Indira Force and multi-instrumentalist Steven Marr, have released a new Kyary-inspired video for their dreamy track “Stranger People,” and it’s gorgeous, funny and ultimately kinda disturbing. In it, Force gets dolled up in full kawaii drag inside a literal dollhouse—a giant human hand occasionally intervenes to make a few minor adjustments to her herky-jerky dance moves, or pat her on the head when she strikes a particularly adorable pose. But it all slowly goes from adorable to horrifying, or possibly adorifying. Watch.
“Stranger People” is from Doprah’s self-titled debut EP, which is spooky and pretty and really, really good. They’ve got a Portishead-meets-the-xx vibe that’s already getting them a ton of attention. You can get the EP on Bandcamp or Amazon.
Our favorite penis-nosed provocateur Anklepants has been having a busy month. Just a few weeks after knocking the entire Internet on its ass with his bonkers Boiler Room set, he’s unleashing a brand-new project this weekend: Clock_yangé (or possibly Clocké_yangé—the spelling seems to vary), a collaboration with a mysterious, tin-foil-faced guitar player called Ratbag. “Clocké_yangé is the übergründé Convict cloud chamber encapsulating Reecard Farché (Anklepants) and RATBAG,” declares the duo’s Facebook page, continuing in the grand Anklepants tradition of sticking accents and umlauts all over the place while making as little sense as possible.
Earlier today, Clock_yangé released what we believe is their first online music, a little two-minute SoundCloud preview of their live set. You can check it out below, but be warned: You may want to listen with someone you’re not ashamed to cower behind. Shit’s kinda scary. Right, Mom? (I cowered behind my mom.)
Rumor has it this unholy duo will unleash their aural onslaught upon an unsuspecting Berlin populace this Saturday. Half the city is gonna wish they left that wall up. (Too soon?)
We’ll leave you with one final fleeting glimpse of Ratbag and his amazing animatronic inverted cross hat. I hope they made extras, because they really need to give one of those things to every member of Mayhem.
I’m in the midst of doing a big article about breakcore for another website (yeah, they occasionally let me out of my cage here at TWBITW), so I’ve spent the past several days plunging down the rabbit hole of twisted “Amen” breaks, distorted basslines and machine-gun snares. So far, I’ve yet to find a track crazier than this little number from Venetian Snares’ 2010 album, My So-Called Life. But give me another day or two and I’m sure I can top it, ’cause breakcore is batshit.
As coincidence would have it, Venetian Snares released a new album just last week, his first since My So-Called Life. It’s called My Love Is a Bulldozer and you can preview tracks or order up a copy via Planet Mu Records or Amazon.com. That’s the cover art at the top of this post, by the way. And yes, the music is as awesome as the cover.
When we heard Texas tranny terrorist Christeene was hitting England and Europe last summer, we were pretty sure she would cause some kind of international incident. But I guess white trash and Eurotrash have more in common than we thought, because she’s heading back to the EU…that’s pronounced “Eww,” y’all…for another string of dates, starting with 10 nights at the Soho Theatre. Soho’s like, all posh and shit, right? Well, la-di-fuckin’-dah! Hope Christeene doesn’t come home talking like Maggie Smith and holding her pinkie in the air when she sips her Four Loko.
“Christeene: The Christeene Machine,” as her Soho show is called, starts tomorrow night, June 24th, and closes July 5th. For full dates and tickets, go here.
This promo video says Christeene will be traipsing around Europe until Aug. 30th, but we’re not sure where else she’s off to after she rips Soho a new one. We’ll try to keep you in the loop.