Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kiss/Devo Tour Program

Found this official "Tour Program" for the inaugural Atomic Books "Kiss/Devo" party held March 17, 1994 at Memory Lane. (The program lists the venue as The Hour House and that's where it was originally scheduled to be held, but the event got shut down for some reason or other and bumped to the following week at Memory Lane.) Local bands were invited to play songs by Atomic Books owner Scott Huffines' two all-time fave favorite bands (um, Kiss and Devo). Includes the set lists - and Scott's reminder to tidy up afterwards!

The only known salvageable footage of this historic event is Blister Freak Circus (Skizz Cyzyk and Joe Tropea) performing Devo's "Gut Feeling" - with the backbeat provided by Pong! Scott Huffines filmed this at Memory Lane, brilliantly inserting stock footage clips that evoke the Devo aesthetic (think "It's a Beautiful World").

"Gut Feeling" by Blister Freak Circus
from Atomic Books' "Q: Are We Not Kiss? A: We Are Devo!"
Memory Lane, early 1990's

Here's Scott's backstory on this event:

Peruse the City Paper nightclub listings and you are likely to find a plethora of hipster-ironic musical mash-ups with clever names like "Johnny Clash's Planet of the Apes 80's Flashback" or "The White Strokes versus Wu Tang & Wang Chung."

But in the early days of Baltimore hipsterdom this was not the case.

That is until the tax man came knocking at Atomic Books' door.

A $5,000 tax bill loomed large. How was Huffines to pay? A book sale? Although during the 90's Baltimore was referred to as "The City That Reads," the fact was, no one read. Of course they occasionally bought books -- but only to decorate their living spaces with. What was he to do?

Suddenly a light bulb appeared above Huffines' head, a 150-watt illuminated marquee scrolling a message: "Put on a show, Little Rascals style!"

And since Kiss and Devo were his favorite bands he decided: What better way to beg for money than to force feed the grunge-loving public the music of his youth? And thus was born:

"Q: Are We Not Kiss? A: We Are Devo!"

The show was a rollicking success, even garnering a coveted City Paper "Best Of" award. Huffines and Warner videotaped the event, utilizing antique VHS cameras the size and weight of cinderblocks. They stored the tapes away never knowing that they were Atomic TV's legacy, their Dead Sea Scrolls, their Book of Genesis.

Many years passed.

And so these tapes sat, deep in the Atomic TV archives until one day the spectre of unemployment revisited Scott Huffines and gave him time. Time to panic and time to worry about his future. But eventually he grew bored and nostalgic, as men in their 40's often do, and he used this time to review hundreds of unlabeled videos, trying to make sense of his past.

He is still confused.

Sit back and enjoy one of Atomic TV's earliest clips, our own "Cavern Club" footage.

-- Scott Huffines

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