DEVO - New Traditionalists tour video (partially found live recordings of concert tour; 1981)

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1981-12-08 04.jpg

Promotional flyer for December 8th, 1981 concert that was to be filmed.

Status: Partially Found

For Devo's New Traditionalists album, the band undertook a large, visually complex tour combining a faux Greek Temple stage set, synchronized lighting and slides, and complex choreography based on three treadmills. Two shows from this tour were known to be filmed, but the footage has been lost, save for three songs.

The November 24th, 1981 show, at the Mackey Auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, was filmed with two cameras by a local PBS affiliate for the show Waveform: Rock Video, produced by Michael Drumm. Of this show, only the first three songs survive in extremely high-generation copies. Audio for the first two songs, the "NuTra Theme" and "Going Under" is lost, but an enterprising fan has synchronized the video with a live audio recording released from a November 28th performance in Seattle. This audio was released as a limited-edition LP in 2012, and as a CD in 2013. The third song from this performance, "Through Being Cool" also circulates with audio, though it features a brief voice-over early on. In February 2020, producer Michael Drumm commented on YouTube about the recording, and meeting Devo's Gerald Casale. [1] Drumm was asked if he had access to the original footage, or higher quality footage, but did not respond.

On September 7th, 2014, youtuber Ian Weil uploaded a seemingly random clip of a 1981 Devo interview that he found at the end of an unknown concert bootleg that "was from late 1990." It features members Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Casale, and Alan Myers talking about de-evolution to an interviewee, but also included footage of the opening of the "Nutra Theme" live, a section of the song which is absent from the archived Boulder performance, to be precise. In this clip, there is a projected video of 3 characters removing themselves from crucifixes, an extended projection from the opening scene of the "Through Being Cool" music video,[2] the video then cuts away and then shows the first seconds of the aforementioned Nutra Theme. One detail to notice is the narration throughout the video, where the narrator sounds very similar to the man speaking over a section of the PBS special from Boulder, which could mean this is additional footage from that program, and perhaps this clip would've been followed by the 2nd part of the Nutra Theme and other songs we see in that show's archive. Also, other clips from unknown parts of the show are played throughout the video, and one shot at 1:07 could be from the song "Jerkin' Back And Forth," as singer Jerry Casale portrays similar gestures in televised live performances to what he does here. [3]

On December 8th, 1981, Devo performed a concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that was to be filmed. According to the band's co-founder, Gerald Casale;

"The one time we tried to record the show, it was because a seven-camera crew was shooting and their lighting generator got crossed with our stage-light generator and they blew out both sets of lights—the film lights and the stage lights. It was a disaster. And part of the insurance settlement was that all audio and video from that show had to be destroyed because they were claiming a loss."[4]

No footage has been recovered from this performance.

An Australian documentary, filmed in 2020, titled Devolution: A Devo Theory, features several short, high-quality clips of video from the New Traditionalists tour. The source and dates for this footage are currently unknown. As the documentary was produced in Australia, the footage may be from the band's 1982 Australian and New Zealand tour dates.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Full found Boulder footage, with missing audio for first two songs.
"NuTra Theme" and "Going Under" footage with synced Seattle audio.
Tour clips from Devolution: A Devo Theory with synced Seattle audio, presumably Boulder footage.
Partial footage of opening video and Nutra Theme and backstage interview with complete audio, persumebly new Boulder footage.

Reference[edit | edit source]