“Hardcore Devo Live!”: “Raw and unfiltered, with no commercial intent”

By on March 20, 2016

“No matter how messy, beginnings are exciting, especially when what happens next endures the test of time.” So begins the narration accompanying this trailer for Devo Hardcore Live!, now available on Night Flight Plus!.

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Hardcore Devo Live!
is a documentary film from 2014 which tells the story of the band’s early formation through interviews with the surviving band members, as well as V. Vale and Tony Basil, interspersed throughout, providing a chronological documentation of the band’s 40th anniversary tour while also paying tribute to original Devo bandmate, guitarist and keyboardist Robert “Bob 2″ Casale, who had died earlier in the year, age 61, of heart failure.

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In Hardcore Devo Live!, we see Devo performing in concert on June 28, 2014, at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, one of the stops on Devo’s 2014 “Hardcore Devo Live” tour.

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The 2014 lineup of Devo was a mix of original members and longtime replacement players — Mark Mothersbaugh (lead vocals, synthesizers, keyboards, and EFX guitar), Bob Mothersbaugh (vocals, rhythm guitar, and lead guitar), Gerald V. Casale (lead vocals, bass guitar, percussion), Josh Freese (drums), and additional help from Brian Applegate (keyboard, bass guitar) — who are seen here blazing their way through a blistering set of 21 frenetic songs, most of them early experimental tracks from their repertoire dating back to the very beginning, most of them songs that were written between 1974 and 1977, an era which pre-dates Devo signing a record deal or even having much wide success beyond of their local Akron, Ohio fanbase.

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The narrator tells us these songs were “raw and unfiltered, with no commercial intent… we called it ‘hardcore DEVO.'”

The songs include “Mechanical Man,” Auto Mo-down,” Space Girl Blues,” “Baby Talkin Bitches,” “Fraulein,” “I Been Refused,” “Bamboo Bimbo,” “Beehive,” “Midget,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Timing X/Soo Bawls,” “Stop Look and Listen,” “O NO,” “Be Stiff,” “Uncontrollable Urge,” Social Fools,” “Jocko Homo,” “Fountain Of Filth,” “Gut Feeling,” “U Got Me Bugged” (a performance by Booji Boy)” and their finale, “Clockout,” during which Alex Casale (Bob Casale’s son) joins them on bass.

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The show is performed in two halves.

The first, focusing on earlier material, is presented with the band seated onstage wearing their street clothes, with minimal lighting (which was meant to show what Devo looked like when they were originally rehearsing in basements and garages, as they did back in their first year as a band).

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The second half shows the bandblue coveralls, as worn in early live shows, working in more famous songs that would later appear their first two albums, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (tracks recorded October 1977-February 1978; the album itself was released on August 28, 1978), and Duty Now For the Future (tracks recorded between September 1978 – Early 1979; album release in July 1979).

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If you’re interested in more posts about Devo’s early career, go here for a post featuring an exclusive excerpt from Kevin C. Smith’s Recombo DNA: The Story Of Devo, Or How the 60s Became the 80s, about what happened on the campus of Kent State, May 4, 1970, and here for another post and excerpt from Kevin’s book, plus you can also watch Devo: The Complete Truth About De-Evolution at Night Flight Plus!

For more posts about Devo, click on the their tagged name below, or right here.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.