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Coachella 2010: Devo didn't change, you did

April 18, 2010 |  3:05 pm

Devo3_l12jc9nc "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, pumping gas, what we do is what we do," sang Devo as the headlining act in the Mojave tent at Coachella on Saturday night. And watching the band, which has been around for nearly four decades in a variety of incarnations and inspired countless would-be nerds to seek rock stardom via computer-programmed music, it was easy to agree with them.

What Devo does is what Devo does -- and although "it's all the same -- it's nothing new," as the song goes -- it's still revelatory in its own way. When Devo delved into the idea of a digital future in the early 1970s, that future was still science fiction. Now it's here, and so, still, is Devo. The result being that what's old is somehow made new again, and Devo's sugary beats, executed with military precision, prove timeless.

Nobody in the packed tent wanted to see Devo change the formula either. Members of the band (their once angular bodies softened and rounded out by time) wore gray uniforms that resembled spaceship commander costumes. Flanking them was a man dressed like a Secret Service agent with a set jaw, sunglasses and a no-nonsense suit.

Projections of retro, early-MTV-style cartoons (people marching, a cheeseburger, a gas pump) streamed behind them, driving home the point that although that type of kitschy imagery is experiencing a huge resurgence of popularity -- Devo has been employing it all along.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh keeps the group's intergalactic vibe alive. Credit: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images.