The Impending Road and Devo

Trip Start Nov 10, 2009
Trip End Dec 18, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Friday, November 13, 2009

I left the pastoral South Bend heading for Chicago.  I've driven these roads before during my time pitching software and SaaS (I hate corporate acronyms especially the false pithy ones, which is all of them but, what the heck). 

The sky just began to darken as I took the ramp to 90/94.  I reached for a CD to play on my way and found a Jack Sheehan mix.  Jack is my nephew.  He is a stunning guitarist and his tastes in music are as eclectic as they are different than mine.  Jack made me a bunch of mixes for my trip. 

The first part of my trip (Baltimore to Austintowne, OH) was all about The Hold Stead's A Positive Rage.  Their live disc(s).  Thank you Eric Shaivitz.  Craig Finn writes interesting lyrics even if they are about drinking most of the time.  His big interlude on the discs revolved around a conversation with his father who gave him the sage advice "guys go for looks, girls go for status" 

Then I listened to one of Jack's mixes.  It was a combo of Foo Fighters, Incubus, RHCP and a couple of other artists I couldn't recognize.  I enjoyed Incubus very much.  I was excited by how well these tunes complimented the road.

Back to the trip to Chicago.  I'm watching the sky darken and I see pink, orange, light blue,  skies.  Every so often the sky would change color.  The skeletal trees lining the highway haunted me as I raced against the "just left work on a Friday crowd".  Then there was that mix disc I blindly popped in.

I'm traveling from Indiana to Illinoise and I pick Native American hymns.  Serious drums and singing a variety of styles from war chant to peaceful new age numbers.  It fit seemlessly into this part of my journey.  My excitement about hitting Chicago and Devo began to rise as the disc continued on and I found myself beating the Coleman Cooler that is my co-pilot.  It had a nice sound and at 80 mph I beat that thing along with the music.  The scene was eerie.  The changing sky, music spindly trees and the sheer flatness of the road.  The midwest has given me some great sunsets and scenery so far.  Maybe it's the flatness of the terrain but, you seem to get quite a picture with the clouds and the trees and the sky

Fast forward to Chicago.  I am headed to The Vic Theatre on the Southside of town.   Devo is the show.  They will be playing the entire "Freedom of Choice" album.  I exit to Damen Ave. and a few turns later I am at The Vic.  Mind you there is parking for pay nearby.  $25 theatre parking.  Parking in Chicago I would later learn is a ridiculous enterprise.  I parked residential for a whopping $0,

3 blocks later I'm in line at The Vic and I strike up a conversation with these 40 something fellows.  One is short and thin with a beard and the saddest eyes I've seen in a while.  We talk about ticketing and I reveal that I need a ticket.  Sad eye guy pulls one out and says "I have an extra, someone couldn't show.  I paid him face value minus $4 and got in line. 

The Vic seats 3,000.  I was one of he first 300 people in line.  I got in and found a seat in the right balcony about 6 rows back.  I sat with Terri and Jack.  Terri was a veteran show-goer.  She saw Hendrix, The Beatles (twice), Led Zeppelin and The Who amongst others.  Terri is 48 a mom of two 20 year old sons and has tinnitus.  She also loved Devo and has seen them countless times.  I learned that she works with special needs children most of them with Autism.  She spoke with amazement about how two of her "kids" have these amazing abilities against terrible limitations.  A girl she works with can create detailed cathedrals using an "Etch a Sketch" but, cannot read or write. A little boy can plan any music he hears on piano.  With no formal training.  "This is the way they express themselves" she said, "Its their only way, we have so many ways to get across but, a lot of my patients have only one"

Terri's brother Jack didn't say a word.

The show began with a novelty comedian JP Inc.  He was going for a unique comedy that fell flat on our audience.  The audience kind of encouraged him to leave the stage.  It was sort of booing but, not out and out NY style "We hate you get off stage" stuff.  JP finally did leave and thanked the audience for being "respectful".  It was mock thanks to be sure.

Devo played a few of their videos to start the show and then hit the stage in their trademark red hats and jump suits.  They were there to play the "Freedom of Choce" album, that was all.  Remember the "Whip It" video.  The gal is getting whipped, you know so she can shed her clothes.  This show featured a look alike of that woman who strutted out holding round cards heralding the album track they were about to play.  They blew throughthe album and played a few other songs (yes, they did play "Whip It")  and the left the audience very happy.  These guys are in their late 50s and they played with a joyful energy and surprising precision.  Their show is part music and part performance art and does not contain any of the rock show staples that you are used to.  One break but, no encores.  Some stories but, no "we couldn't be here if it wasn't for you" BS. 

The crowd was mostly over 40 dudes and some were really into Devo.  They traveled from Iowa and Indiana just to see the show.  They were playing 2 or 3 nights and these folks took time off from works to see the show.

The theatre had a VIP section.  You could buy this package for nearly triple the General Admission ticket which included a hat, a signed poster and a choice balcony seat (center rows).  Now I took pictures and by accident my video recorder turned on.  Security comes down and tells me "You can't tape this show"  I say "OK" and look around and see no less than 5 camera phones taping the show.  I'm the bad guy cause I'm not the VIP I guess.  I didn't get thrown out and took no more video.  The man wins even though I wasn't competing in the first place.

I left the show and headed to shelter north of the city.


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