In our current situation, with not much hope for an immediate future that involves regular doses of fresh air and friends, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe, we’re all in need of a little light relief. Luckily, in the clip below we’ve got Pearl Jam dressing up as Devo.
As well as adorning “the band of the future” and their iconic on-stage garb of yellow jumpsuits and red hats that look like cake casings, the legendary grunge band also performed a cover of Devo’s seminal single, ‘Whip It’.
It’s not the first time Pearl Jam have taken on somebody else’s song but when the grunge Kings took on Devo’s track on Halloween night in 2009, it was certainly the most committed they’ve ever been.
By all accounts, it was a strange night for all involved, as an important Baseball game went down next door, it was also the final public event staged at Philadelphia’s Spectrum venue. Pearl Jam would pay the arena the ultimate tribute with a mammoth set including over 40 different tracks form the huge catalogue.
Arguably though the best performance was not of their own song. At the start of the second encore, Pearl Jam returned to the stage in full Devo gear and without a moment’s notice they readied themselves for ‘Whip It’. “I think that Ed decided we were going to do that,” Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard told Rolling Stone in 2009.
“We talked about it a month ago and it didn’t really sink in. When I knew we were going to do it and I listened to that song I really started thinking about the impact of Devo. They mean so much to us and it really was a salute to them.”
If you’re a little confused about the connection Vedder and the rest of the band had to Devo you’d be forgiven, as Gossard explains, “If you thought back to Pearl Jam ten years ago, you wouldn’t immediately think we’d be celebrating Devo,” he said.
“You wouldn’t have heard we even liked that band, but everyone in this band was affected by that band. In my perspective, their place in Western pop-music history is pretty clear. They broke down a real barrier of what is typical rock and what you can do within the framework of rock and how you can challenge convention.”
So here it is, Pearl Jam’s homage to Devo, one of the best bands ever to wear silly suits and get away with it.