Oh, No! It's Devo
At Chop Suey's Devo Cover Night this Friday, December 6, multiple acts will pay tribute to the band known for its vastly weird, squeakily instrumented, discordantly rhythmed, robot-soaked, post-punk musical happenings, whose members dressed in costumes so ridiculous, they looked like sci-fi figurines. TV & the Deevs frontman TV Coahran will wear a factory-issued industrial-gray jumpsuit and clear plastic face-mask ensemble, inspired by the "Secret Agent Man" video. According to a 1995 YouTube interview with Devo founder Gerald Casale, the original outfit's components were culled from Akron, Ohio's toy stores and janitorial-supply companies, which only richens the glamour.
Another vivid music-video moment involves a french fry suggestively penetrating a glazed doughnut in "That's Good," although interpreting this image into a fashion homage could only bring obstacles. More practical Devo-apparel options include pasted-on sideburns, butcher jackets layered under enema-bag bandoliers, lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh's removable plastic eyebrows, or the creepily hopeful Boy Scout uniforms from the New Traditionalists album cover—a pairing of workaday slacks with V-neck shirts and synthetic John Kennedy–style croissant pompadours.
Swimming goggles made smart accessories, as did turtlenecks, yanked fully up. There were also dishwashing gloves, cardboard 3-D glasses, and duct-tape belt-and-suspender sets, which are all easy enough to procure. The band wore plenty of especially curious garments, too, and for a time, a good selection could be obtained from the Oh, No! It's Devo album inner sleeve, which doubled as a mail-order catalog. The famous Energy Dome was for sale there, a stacked-disk headpiece of deep lipstick red, with design elements recalling ancient ziggurats and lacquered dog dishes. Casale constructed the first model himself, by vacuum-forming sheet plastic into a mold cast from a 1930s deco-era ceiling fixture, and he claims the shape encourages increased mental performance. (Who knows if that's true, though the stylish hat could definitely impart, with a peppy sophistication, your next scheduled uneasily-kinky-strip-show-at-the-dude-ranch agenda.)
Back to the catalog and its ad-copy wonderments, strewn like Christmas tinsel among the descriptions. Devo's signature yellow hazmat coveralls promised protection from dangerous elements, enabling one to "stay cool during meltdowns." The Spudring polyethylene collar could be worn as a bulbed shoulder protector, or flipped into "saucer" position, making a great "barber bib, crumb catcher, or sun visor." And collectible lenticular flicker buttons were constructed from heavy-duty material to endure "even the most violent wiggling."