It must have been a struggle for VANOC to figure out how to put on the Cultural Olympiad. Still, it’s strange that they thought the Neil Young Project would be enough to balance out our music being represented by Hedley (“for the kids”), Michael Bublé (“people listen to him”), and Avril Lavigne (“it’s still 2002 up here”). It makes you wonder if the Arcade Fire, a band that would have been perfect for something higher profile, just said no, causing VANOC to call off any attempt at credibility. No surprise, then that Devo were the last band announced for the Whistler victory ceremonies: “quick, we need one more. Hey, what about those guys who used to whip things?”
The ceremony itself was a strange, unpolished thing. Whose idea was it to raffle off the tickets to Sea-to-Sky residents? Every night was under-attended and every concert was mostly fans-less. How fortunate for Devo that they came up with the hats all those years ago. After an unremarkable intro by Hank from Corner Gas, the guys rolled out—wearing their new shiny silver suits and phantom of the opera masks—and Energy Domes were dealt to the crowd. Instantly, drunk hipsters and elderly Norwegians alike were into it! Thus is the obvious power of the ziggurat headware, now in powder [Ed. Olympic?] blue.
The band started out with new material, all of which was surprisingly relevant. “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” was a highlight (as well as the only new song whose name I caught.) After that, they moved into as much of a hits parade as Devo has—but after 30 years that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not like the crowd knew “Uncontrollable Urge” was any more important than any of the first songs. Then, about halfway through the set, came the trademark whip cracks, and the light bulb came on for everyone. The hats started bobbing around with some sort of purpose, and even the half full, lottery ticketed “Mosh Pit Area” looked like they were having as much fun as the handful of people in the crowd who knew “Whip It” was a Devo song before it started.
That seemed, in the end, to have been enough to win the crowd. Overheard on the bus ride back down the highway: “Wow, the foam rings in these hats were a good idea, right?”
“Yeah, it was really thoughtful of them.”