Friday, September 24, 2004

Okay, I'm A DEVO Dork

Last night I volunteered at the Run Hit Wonder, a huge 5K/10K race (10,000 runners) put on by Nike featuring such eighties relics as A Flock Of Seagulls, Tommy Tutone, and Tone-Loc playing on the course. I was stationed at the start/finish line so I didn't get to see any of those bands, but the highlight of the evening promised to be a post-race concert by DEVO.

While passing out water cups at the start, I met another volunteer named Desiree (cursed to go through life reminding people of a Neil Diamond song). She was very friendly, and we ended up hanging out together most of the night. After we ran out of water bottles to pass out at the race finish, we headed toward the concert area. There we were in for a rude surprise: only runners were allowed, not volunteers. The main reason I volunteered was to see the concert, and now I was denied. I suppose I was better off than Desiree, though. She came to see A Flock Of Seagulls, but they only played on the course so she missed them entirely (we both wondered if they still had the same hair). At least I could hear DEVO, even if I couldn't get close enough to see much of them. As we stood outside the concert area, Desiree said, "All they had was that one song, 'Whip It,' right?"

"Oh, no," I replied, proving that I am indeed a DEVO dork. "They had lots of other songs." I proceeded to sing a few of them ("Peek-A-Boo," "Jocko Homo," "Mongoloid," "The Girl U Want"). Not one was remotely familiar to her. In fact, she said they all sounded kind of the same, but I assured her it was just that I am a very bad singer.

Barred from the concert area, we sat on the grass off to the side where we could just barely make out the awkwardly moving figures onstage that were DEVO. The sound system was lousy; the volume went up and down randomly. I have never felt so detached at a concert. It was like we were talking over the jukebox at a bar. In fact, they were halfway through "Whip It" when Desiree pointed out that this was their big hit and we were missing it. When the song ended, we watched hordes of runners head for the exit--that was all they wanted to hear. I felt sorry for DEVO. In a normal DEVO concert, they were just getting started ("Whip It" comes in the middle of the show), but here, the uninitiated audience was abandoning them. Alas, that is the curse of having one big hit.

As DEVO continued with their unique interpretation of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," Desiree incredulously asked, "Oh no, now they're going to play the Rolling Stones?"

"Hey, this is one of their hits!" said DEVO dork Dave. As a child of the eighties, I considered anything with a music video to be a "hit," regardless of whether it made the charts.

After a couple more songs, Desiree decided to go home. She said I should stay, but I just wasn't into it; it was like watching a concert from a high-rise balcony. As we walked north on Columbus Drive, DEVO began playing "Mongoloid." I started singing along. She must have thought I was nuts.

The Brown Line trains have been painfully slow for the past few nights because of track work, so I happily accepted her generous offer to drive me home. Wouldn't you know it, ten minutes after she dropped me off, it hit me: surely she's heard "Beautiful World!" Yep, I'm a DEVO dork. Actually, the correct term is spud. And if you understand that, you're a DEVO dork, too.

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