I was -- and I realize I may stretch your credulity a little -- a sweet kid. Genuinely, I was, at fifteen. Boisterous and arrogant, sure. But sweet: clean-cut and naive. Sheltered, really, is the word I'm looking for, here.
This friend of mine was not. He was lightning-clever, manic, cynical. He introduced me to all kinds of things that, at the time, I thought were way out there and more than a little frightening. I had no idea he was giving me the tools I needed to survive the twentieth century. The Sex Pistols. Repo Man. Robert Anton Wilson. The Church of the Subgenius.
The most important of these was DEVO.
DEVO saw it all coming. They had seen the future -- they knew it was going to be shiny and bright and plastic and that it was going to suck. De-evolution: everything getting stupider. They looked into the abyss and instead of trying to escape it, they took a running jump and took us all with them, deconstructing pop music and everything else they touched. It was a sound from somewhere maybe just twenty minutes into the future, after the bomb had dropped and we were smiling mutants all. We were all doomed. And it was funny.
The bomb never came. But DEVO was right.
I betrayed my friend, eventually. I didn't mean to, is my cry and excuse, but it hardly matters.
There was a girl, someone I knew. I was surprised and delighted to find out that she was spending a lot of time with this old friend of mine, that it looked like they'd probably be dating soon. She wanted to know all about him.
I told her a few things about him that, to me, were just interesting, colorful background information. Things that, if I'd thought about it, I might well have realized he'd rather have kept secret.
He never spoke to me again, after that. I don't suppose he ever will.
DEVO performed at the Paramount here in Seattle, on Saturday night, one of only six stops in this entire tour. I never thought I was going to be able to see them live. retcon got us tickets, for which I'm insanely grateful.
I danced. I never dance at concerts.
They were great. Such high energy. At one point they were throwing energy domes into the audience. I want one so bad.
One of their trademark songs has the refrain, "Are we not men? We are DEVO!" At one point, they turned that into call-and-response with the audience. "Are we not men?" the band asked, and "We are DEVO!" the audience screamed back.
I was completely blown away by that -- by the band sharing their energy, their name, their identity, with everyone there. I'd misunderstood that song all these years -- they are not DEVO -- we are DEVO, all of us. Of course.
I don't know if my old, mad, brilliant, lost friend was there that night. But I hope he was.