Punk legends to whip up
sentiment in hometown fundraiser.
By David Downs
Master art punk provocateurs Devo announced this week that
they will hold a fundraiser for Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama
October 17, at 8 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theater with tickets for a lucky 3,000
people starting at $25 and going up to $125.
Founding member and bassist Gerald “Jerry” Casale,
vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh and guitarist Bob Casale join current line-up Bob
Mothersbaugh (“Bob 1”) and Neil Taylor on percussion next Friday. The
usual high-energy Devo show features little crowd interaction, but Mark says
this show is more about the the voters than the band. It’s also the first show
they’ve played in their hometown Civic Theater in anyone’s memory.
“We always knew Ohio
was a special place. We refer to our hometown as the house of pain because
people seem so unbelievably conflicted in Ohio,” says Mark, speaking to BLURT.
“It’s not farmland, it’s not hick, but it’s not the big city. People kind
of know just enough about everything to get all anxiety ridden and
The 35-year-old band dedicated to the notion that humans
were devolving not evolving has always been political, says Mothersbaugh. It was
founded during the aftermath of the 1970 Kent State
shootings. National Guardsmen shot and killed four students, wounding nine.
Casale — a member of the Students for Democratic Society, (later The
Weathermen of Bill Ayers fame) — said he was friends with two of those shot
dead. His pacifism and illusions died that day and with Kent State
closed, he and fellow art buddy Mark Mothersbaugh spent the summer forming Devo
Furthermore, Mark states their 1980 hit “Whip Hit”
was directed at President Jimmy Carter; a candidate Devo endorsed but who
proved embattled by an international oil crisis and seething hostage situation
in Iran. Needless to say, Carter did not whip it into shape, and eights
years of Reagan soon followed.
The 2008 Obama fundraiser grew from the need to do something
during yet another pivotal period in American history, says Jerry Casale. Fresh
off touring and working on new material– Devo is firing again on several, if
not all cylinders. Jerry says the incumbents have “systematically
undermined the very tenants of democracy, and it’s almost eroded to the point
where it looks like it’ll be difficult to restore it. If anyone can do that,
it’s Barack Obama, not John McCain and Sarah Palin.”
has emerged as THE biblical battleground state, Devo says, noted for its role
in unleashing a torrential rain of blood and terror across the globe — an
eight-year plague of idealogical locusts that may finally lift from this poor,
weakened land. Mark admits that Devo’s gig might be some penance for moving
away from the their hometown, taking yet another sane vote in races tight
enough for it to matter.
“Ohio is the key and Ohio keeps voting
wrong,” says Jerry.
“Being out there in California,
we didn’t realize the Republicans had done such a successful job of bamboozling
our country and our home state,” says Mothersbaugh, who resides in L.A. where he runs Mutato
Productions. “Maybe it is a minor form of atonement.”
Mothersbaugh’s die-hard Republican father is an exemplary
member of that Akron
community, and the family hopes to sway him and others Friday. He is aging,
event organizers say, and susceptible to being bribed with a long-sought
opportunity to introduce his son’s historic, singular band.
Tickets are on sale at the box office and at Ticketmaster.
[Photo Credit: Andrew Boyle]