Credit: Malcolm Riviera

Relive the lunacy of Devo with the earliest known footage of the band in action from 1973

We’re digging into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at some of the earliest known footage of Devo performing at Kent State University and delivering a quite bizarre performance. While there aren’t any energy domes on show, there is at least one member wearing the mask of a monkey.

We’ve tried time after time but we still can’t seem to understand how a vintage clip of Devo at the very beginning of their journey in 1973 performing ‘Private Secretary’ has so little views.

The idea that the clip has so little attention gets even stranger when you consider you can see the lunacy of the group ingrained on their embryonic performances ready to develop and become a force for change in the music industry.

Devo’s timeline can be traced back to a joke. A joke between Gerard Casale and Bob Willis which would later turn into something altogether more serious. Formed after the shooting at Kent State University suddenly made the need for devolution all the more pressing, with Mark Mothersbaugh in tow, the band had officially formed.

Their first show together, working under the title of the Sextet Devo, was captured on film as part of the university’s performing arts festival. The band included Casale, Lewis and Mothersbaugh, as well as Gerald’s brother Bob Casale on guitar, and friends Rod Reisman and Fred Weber on drums and vocals, respectively. It may not be the Devo we know so well but there’s certainly a resemblance that is uncanny.

Largely, one suspects, because the film provides a view of the hefty dose of the crazed antics and subverted behaviour that would make them defining figures of music for the next few decades.

Capturing Mark Mothersbaugh in a chimpanzee mask is one thing, seeing him dance among a heavy sixties influenced rock and roll sound is something altogether a lot different. We, simply, cannot get enough of it.

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