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Devo are back. That’s good news in these dark days. But more crucially, Devo came back the right way. Sure, they pulled the radioactive yellow Are We Not Men-era costumes out of storage (though not the natty Chinese-American Friendship Suits of the Shout era), but they also looked forward. They were interactive. They listened to the people. What did they do? They held a series of focus groups. These focus groups helped select the tracks for the new Devo album; they picked the album’s title, Something for Everybody; and they determined that those classic energy domes needed a makeover—the domes are now bright blue!

There is plenty of evidence out there for de-evolution—see “baggers, tea”—but no evidence more convincing than the extensive use of focus groups by the media-arts industrial complex. Come to Clifton Park this weekend to experience the essence of de-evolution: “Whip It,” “Satisfaction,” and snappy new tunes like “Fresh.”

Devo will make you shake your ass and help you accept the continuing decline of human civilization on Saturday (July 31) at 8 PM at Northern Lights (1208 Route 146, Clifton Park). Tickets are $45. For more info, call the club at 371-0012.

Philadelphia Orchestra

What really needs to be said about Yo Yo Ma? The virtuoso cellist is internationally renowned for his evocative music and his eclectic repertoire. He’s won 16, seriously 16, Grammy Awards. His resume reads like a roll call of the world’s greatest concert halls and collaborators—not to mention gigs at Obama’s inauguration and Sesame Street.

And the Philadelphia Orchestra? Over their 110-year history, they have established themselves as one of the “Big Five” American orchestras, breaking ground in music, diplomacy and technology. They were the first symphony orchestra to tour both the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam, the first to make electrical recordings, the first to appear on a national television broadcast, the first to give a live cybercast and, most recently, the first to offer music downloads without a distributor.

This week, Yo Yo Ma joins the Philadelphia Orchestra to open their annual residency at SPAC with a three-piece program featuring Strauss’ Don Juan, Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Stravinksy’s The Rite of Spring. Chief conductor Charles Dutoit will guide the whole shebang.

The Philidelphia Orchestra will perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs) on Wednesday (Aug. 4) at 8 PM. Tickets range from $23 for the lawn to $77.50 inside. For more info, call 587-3330.

Berkshire Fringe Festival

The wheels of performance innovation are churning again over at the Berkshire Fringe Festival. Bazaar Productions has hosted more than 200 emerging theater, dance, music and performance artists at its annual Fringe Festival over the past five years, and the sixth season expands the excitement to a second venue.

This year’s lineup features eight core works by theater and dance artists drawn from coast to coast, from quirky clowning and a one-woman Cubano comedy to Monster, Rebecca Pappas’ narrated dance performance exploring the line between victim and victimizer, which the Los Angeles Times declared “compelling” and “mesmerizing.”

As always, the schedule will be rounded out by free programs including Early Stages staged readings of new works, the 30 Live! music series and an array of community workshops with festival artists.

The Berkshire Fringe Festival presents its offerings tonight (Thursday, July 29) through Aug. 16 at the Daniel Arts Center (Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington, Mass.) and Mixed Company (37 Rossetter St., Great Barrington, Mass.). Tickets to individual events are $14, with pick-your-price specials opening night. A full-festival pass is available for $95, a select three-show pass is $39; all workshops, 30 Live! Music performances and readings are free. For more info, call (413) 320-4175 or visit

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