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DEVO at SXSW - Devolution Dominates

Photo Over the past 22 years South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas has grown to become one of the biggest music gatherings in the world. As far as the U.S. music industry is concerned it does not get any bigger. Over 2,000 bands perform in more than 65 venues, all packed into less than a 2 mile area in downtown Austin. Every year it grows, although this year they said attendance would be down and I wondered if the overall mood and vibe of the event would be affected by the economy or the state of the music industry. Surprisingly these things seemed to have very little negative impact, other than the overall attendance being down a bit. Spirits were up, bands were playing and there were plenty of showcases and label events. No one was handing out money and no one had a magic pill cure for the music industry woes, but there was a great exchange of ideas and art that is a real shot in the arm, especially for those attending. Bands and labels alike are starting to get it…starting to try to work out a new way of doing things. Some of the live highlights were: Tinted Windows, Anathallo, Mother Mother, Black and White Years, Airborne Toxic Event, White Lies and more. Ironically, the band that exemplified this and rose above the rest was none other than Devo. When it was announced that Devo would play SXSW most, myself included, assumed this would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane. One could naturally assume that this was just a reunion show for the industry and SXSW fans sponsored by their performance rights company BMI as a thank you for all the money “Whip It” has made for them. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Devo showed up for their press conference and artist panel in uniforms with their patented Energy Domes on their heads. They came with big ideas and big announcements about a brand new album and documentary. They wanted to talk about the industry, how to promote music in the “new world” and how their theory of Devolution started out as somewhat of a tougne-in-cheek joke but has now been proven true and is relevant to everything happening. They still talk with a wink and a nod about their ideas, but when it comes to man’s role in the world and technologies shortcomings, no one puts it better than Devo. One of the 4 new songs they debuted at SXSW is “Don’t Shoot I’m A Man.” I think that about says it all. Every single song they sing I laugh and smile, and then I think about the meaning behind the joke and I go “oooooohhhh!” All this talk about concept and ideas…SXSW is about the music, the live performance. Surely these old guys couldn’t bring it like the hot young trendy acts at SXSW. This is where the biggest surprise of all happened…this is where DEVO came out and kicked everyone’s butt. They blew away critics, fans, casual fans and yes, even conquered the indifference of the music industry elite. The VIP area full of music business execs stopped their witless chatter and cocktail hour and remained transfixed to the stage for the entire 80 minute set. During this time the (original) members of Devo pranced, danced, rocked and rolled with more energy than any other band I saw that week. My friend Jim just looked at me when it was over and shook his head and said “That was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.” I agreed. It seems like everyone packed in there at the Austin City Music Hall felt the same way. Then Jim said, “There’s no way they can take this show on tour though.” He didn’t even need to finish that thought. I was thinking the exact same thing. There’s no way guys their age could do that every night. I couldn’t have even done it for one night. Most young bands couldn’t pull that show off on the road. The interaction with the huge video screen behind them just added to the amazing energy. This show combined all the elements, art, performance, musicianship, humor and technology. The 4 new songs more than held their own with the classics and “What We Do” actually stood above anything else they did. They are planning on releasing various songs from the project at various times in various ways and then after a few months releasing them all with a video documentary in some final format on a grand scale. These guys have somehow ended up on the cutting edge of relevance and all while delivering one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. But don’t take my word for it, see what the Billboard critic had to say CLICK HERE

For a video interview and live clips from SXSW click the player below:

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SXSW

SXSW has been great! Check out the pictures...DEVO in concert, Devo at their press conference, Dr. Shore with Mark and Jerry of Devo and last but not least, Dr. Shore with industry legends Bob Clearmountain and Bob Ludwig along with the lead singer of Fastball. Bob and Bobhave worked on some of the greatest albums of all time.


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ObviousPopCast Episode 15 - World Premier Power Pop!

Obviouspopcastlogo Episode 15 of the ObviousPopCast is here and full of brand new music, including the new song from power pop super group Tinted Windows, featuring members of Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne, Smashing Pumpkins and Hanson. Episode 15 also includes an exclusive world premier of the brand new Doug Powell track "Equivoque" from his upcoming album. Put that all together with even more new music and you've got yourself 47 minutes of fun that can be streamed or downloaded as a high quality MP3.

To stream it now click play:

Download it now: ObviousPopCast Episode 15

Add it to your iTunes podcasts: CLICK HERE

(If you use the link to download it to iTunes, it may go into your podcast folder or possibly be listed in the main music library under the title: ObviousPop or the artist name: Dr. Tony Shore.)