Something (Fried) For Everybody

DevoColumbus1

The Brothers Mothersbaugh whip it good at the Ohio State Fair.

“How many people believe de-evolution is real?” called out DEVO bassist Jerry Casale during a lively performance at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday.  Perhaps no other venue is better suited for procuring anecdotal evidence for the band’s philosophy, as the fair was populated by a typical assortment of Ohioans representing a wide swath of the evolutionary scale.  There to indulge their worst dietary habits were a number of vendors offering the signature fair food, which is anything that has been deep-fried.  Beyond the traditional elephant ears, funnel cakes and french fries wafted the aroma of deep-fried candy bars, Twinkies, Oreos, Pop Tarts, peanut butter buckeyes and even garlic mashed potatoes.  “If you fry it, they will come” seems to be the mantra of our state fair, and that may be as damning a tidbit of evidence for de-evolution as any.

How fitting, though, that amongst the fetid stalls of prize-winning livestock and numerous exhibits featuring the best of Ohio’s diverse products should be a showcase for the Akron band that was not only ahead of its time but ahead of its place as well.  Promoting their recent release, Something For Everybody, DEVO is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and long-overdue recognition for a unique and enduring artistic statement.  They gave their home state an entertaining set that demonstrated the compelling mix that they have offered throughout their career:  incisive social satire and infectious songs delivered with great technical skill and an irresistible sense of humor. Read More

Group Dynamics

Indispensible

The Beatles:  indispensable leads, colorful supporting characters, and no extras?

Imagine the public outrage that would ensue if Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were to announce their intention to reunite and tour as The Beatles.  Though they would have no trouble selling tickets, a critical consensus would condemn the endeavor as false advertising, even though the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison obviously would have prevented them from participating.  Yet there is no hue and cry over Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend appearing as The Who in spite of the unavailability of late bandmates Keith Moon and John Entwistle.  Why?  The answer rests in the peculiarities of rock group dynamics, by which the members of most bands can be subdivided into indispensable leads, colorful supporting characters, and extras.

Now let us entertain an alternative history in which Lennon and McCartney are today’s surviving Fab  Two.  They hold a press conference under a giant Beatles logo and announce a reunion tour.  The world rejoices.  Everyone laments the losses of Harrison and Starr, but few seem to mind Lennon and McCartney hiring session players and billing themselves as The Beatles.  This is because within Beatle group dynamics, Lennon and McCartney were the indispensable leads.  You can’t have The Beatles without either of them, but you conceivably could have The Beatles with both of them and some hired hands. Read More

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