The authentic icons of the fake, Devo, are best known for their S&M-tinged video hit “Whip It” and their equally synthetic, jerky take on the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.” Among the first few music videos of the early ’80s, the clips brought Devo a surprisingly huge pop culture status and endless play on the then-new channel MTV. Meanwhile, discerning fans loved Devo’s sly mélange of New Wave, Kraftwerk and punk influences with an Ohio scene flair (Pere Ubu, Dead Boys, Pretenders).
Devo will be the first headliner to play Crown Theater and Nightclub at the Rio (June 19, $79). Their performance comes four days after the June 15 release of Something for Everybody, the group’s first disc of new material in two decades.
Formed in 1972, the band created the name Devo from their idea of humanity’s “de-evolution.” “With Devo that was our big statement as artists from Akron, Ohio,” says singer Mark Mothersbaugh. “It was who we were and [our] view of the world. In a way I think what any of us in the band have done since then are permutations on that theme.”
Nearly 40 years later, their name now seems prophetic. “Technology does not make people smarter,” Mothersbaugh says, explaining his 2010 take on the band’s signature philosophy. “We saw the limits to freedom imposed by democracy. It is looking like humans may have started off as a species. The harmony with nature is gone and is never coming back. We were interested in it and embracing it because we were part of it. For us, we came to the conclusion that you do things not by anarchy but through subversion.”
And so the band is back to subvert new audiences with their music, all slippery with tasty pop hooks mocking easy pleasures. Two icons of the fake, Devo and Vegas have a lot in common, including a shared history. “The first time we played Vegas was Las Vegas High School,” Mothersbaugh recalls. “That was quite a few years ago. It was just Devo playing a high school. It was a regular show in an auditorium.” As for how a local school scored a Devo show during a period that Mothersbaugh estimates was between the band’s third or fourth record (early ’80s): “We weren’t that expensive.”
In his spare time, Mothersbaugh has found so much success writing scores for movies and television that he could retire. (Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Happy Gilmore, Lords of Dogtown and The Royal Tenenbaums are among his many credits.) But what keeps the men working together these years is a more old-style bond: “There are two sets of brothers, and there is a genetic connection there. We see each other all the time anyhow.”
From Porno to Pirates. Comedian Dave Attell, who will be performing at TI on June 11 ($35 and up), was last in Vegas to host the Adult Video News Awards. “It is a lot of work,” he says of the experience. “A lot of my friends have done it, other comics. But the girls who were my co-hosts did the real work. They had to sign all day and pose for photos with fans and then dress for the show.”
Attell, 45, is happy to be a working comic. “I am getting old now. In dog years I am dead. I am just lucky that most of the people who come to see me really want to hear the material, and that is what keeps you doing it. But the travel part wears you out.” So, asked if he would be interested in a regular showroom gig in Vegas, Attell responds with surprise: “Have you heard my material? … I don’t see that offer coming. But in a perfect world that would be great.” Still, he enjoys his occasional Vegas gigs: “Vegas has a really cool group of people who are in the industry from strippers to bartenders, and then you have this other group that comes ready to party.”