Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Here is something that I have been sitting on for five years now and with the launch of the blog, it seemed like the right time to publish it. This is review of Devo's concert at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn in June of 2008. Prepare for snide comments and stinging satire... as far as concert reviews go.
Photos and a video are after the review!

McCarren Park Pool
Brooklyn, NY
June 26, 2008

About two years ago I became obsessed with the music of Devo. I was amazed and somewhat annoyed at how I let this band completely fly under my radar for at least two decades. When I first read about this show, I started to worry that maybe this would be their last trip east since the band tours very little anymore. Combine that with the fact that the band members (with the exception of drummer Josh Freese) are all in their mid-50’s and I knew I had to make this show at one of NY’s oddest venues; McCarren Park Pool. Yes, Devo - punk, post-punk, new wave pioneers - played in a pool. Albeit an old, deserted, public pool that could probably fit at least 10,000 standing concert goers!

It was oddly quiet at the venue when I arrived despite the fact that the entire audience was already there awaiting the show. The sun was setting, dusk was upon us and there was a gentle, warm breeze in the air - which is not how you would describe an area of Brooklyn which 10 years ago was a crime-infested, war zone but hey, it was a nice night!

Thank to our wonderful gentrification system, old crack houses are now multi-million dollar condos. I don’t know anyone who can afford to live in properties such as these but the alarming rate in which these dwellings crop up makes me wish I was better at math and had become an investment banker. Damn creative mind of mine!

Another huge bonus to our esteemed gentrification system is that it enables more of these pesky music venues to close so that my first show at McCarren Park Pool has ended up being my last! You must think of the big picture here – what good is high-end real estate without a pool? Well, I’m happy to report that after almost 50 years, half of McCarren Pool is going to be re-filled. You heard correctly, half of it. What will they do with the other half? I say Trader Joe’s because it’s such an upwardly mobile place to shop but that’s just me.  

Oh real estate developers – are we not men?

While the show was going on I couldn’t help but think of the good times these millionaires must have been having as they sashayed on their extra-large balconies to the sounds of Whip It. But then, once the requisite hit was out of the way (it was the 4th song of the night) and the show really got underway, I guarantee all of the hipsters quickly retired from the lanai, suddenly afraid of how the band “like, suddenly got weird on us!” This was the perfect venue for a Devo show!

The night began with the infamous show-starting movie that Devo has used for years played on a large video screen. I believe it was originally used for the New Traditionalists Tour of 1981. Spudheads, please correct me if I’m wrong. We were then treated to a retrospective montage of every Devo video while the mechanical, driving synth riff of That’s Good gurgled underneath leaving no surprise as to what the opening number was going to be.

They played everything you would have expected including the one-two punch of songs three & four (Girl U Want & Whip It). After that, the group did hit upon some unexpected album cuts such as Going Under and Blockhead. It is surprising how many songs of theirs are not commercial hits but received the most enthusiastic crowd response. Brooklyn became unglued for tracks such as Mongoloid, Freedom of Choice and Uncontrollable Urge.

The show was exactly what you would expect from a band with the stature and history as Devo – they took the stage like they owned it and did not relent until they left the stage 65 minutes later. Yes, they left the stage after only 65 minutes! Maybe they were not aware of the 10 pm curfew but whatever it was, the show was an hour long! It was a great hour; they were fantastic, but $53 for what is essentially one set? That’s rough.

But let’s end this on a positive note: the developer who lives in that new condo overlooking McCarren Park surely got a great night’s sleep in preparation for his board meeting the next morning dealing with when the demolition of the pool would begin. I bet hidden somewhere in the annals of his 800GB iPhone lies Whip It, which surely provided the soundtrack to his ride in the limo on the way to the office that morning.

‘Whip it good’ indeed.

Here is a quick clip of Blockhead live from this show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXvKzzTlDPU 

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