Growing up, there were two bands that my dad passed down to me: the Beatles (he’d cycle through the series of albums while working just outside my bedroom door) and Blondie. From her rock-fem voice to the iconic blond looks she championed throughout her career, the Debbie Harry from my youth will always be an icon, a barometer in my mind for what it means to be a punk rock musician and a measure by which all other acts are judged. I can’t remember when I first heard “Heart of Glass,” but my mind remembers those first pulsing notes and the exact way I felt when I heard it in the 80s. Every time I play it, every time I will ever play it, that initial feeling comes right back. It’s one of those songs that always play for the first time to your ears.
The crowd at the San Francisco Warfield was a mix of Devo and Blondie fans. In the far back of the theater the crowd averaged in their early 40s to late 50s, while closer to the stage they were in their 30s to early 40s. I did not venture to the sophistication of the mezzanine and can’t speak to the crowd there, but the music lovers I bumped elbows with on the first level were far and away a delightful mess. I call it a mess not because of any disheveled state on their part, but the overall atmosphere in the theatre. The air held a palpable anticipation, for both acts, that transformed into joy when the bands hit the stage. Playing classics and some covers, Devo choosing the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” while Blondie covered one of my favorite artists, Ellie Goulding, and her song “Lights.”
For a chef, silence at the dinner table is a great compliment. For a musician, a sea full of lips and hearts lifted in tune with your own is an equally sweet treat.