The Residents

<img src="" alt="The Residents : Live" />A Residents show is like a play that performs like a dream David Lynch might have while taking a catnap. ...
The Residents : Live

The Residents

electric flamesA cozy living room set up on the stage at Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR on Thursday, March 17th; electric flames flickering in the fireplace.  On the mantle, under the gingerbread man, a television lit up with static.  Two humanoids (the audience would come to know the musician on the left of the stage with the table of knobs and dials and laptop as ‘Chuck’, the guitarist on the right as ‘Bob’) entered from the side of the stage, both wearing red sequined tuxedo coats with tails, black tuxedo pants and matching black shirts.  Even their faces were covered, black fabric, like ski masks.  Predator-alien, Randy?iridescent dreadlocks bounced on top of their heads, their eyes covered by flipped up, steampunk style glasses.  Never could you get a glimpse of their eyes, though, or any distinguishing human characteristics except for their hands.  With grey hair around the bottom of his latex, elderly man’s half mask, the singer of The Residents shuffled around the living room in a long, striped robe, argyle boxers and enormous black & white shiny clown shoes.  This is the one who goes by the name of ‘Randy’.  A Residents performance is like a play that performs like a dream David Lynch might have while taking a catnap.  Randy invites us into their living room, warning us that some of these stories he is about to tell are pretty spooky.  Tonight’s performance is centered on Randy’s Ghost Stories (2010).

The Residents have a long history of art and music making, from 1972 till present, with 60-plus albums and many short films.  Through it all they remain an indefinable force of unbridled creativity.  Although no genre really sums them up entirely, they have best been described as avant-garde, performance art and music.  The guiding principle of The Residents is to remain uninfluenced by the outside world and its critiques, Chuck?to remain pure in their vision.  The Residents have been obscuring their real identities since they appeared in their trademark tuxedos with giant eyeballs on their heads in the ‘70s.  They have never granted anyone an interview.  ‘Randy’, ‘Chuck’, and ‘Bob’ are as close as we get.  There have always been four members of the band but, as Randy explains this night, ‘Carlos’ has retired, tiring of the rock and roll lifestyle, to take care of his mother.  It is hard to know if this is truth, though, or just another part of the show.  This is a concept band that defies all labeling; they are musicians and artist with no comparison.  They are anti-rock stars.  Can you imagine if no one knew what the Rolling Stones looked like?  The Residents could just as well be from outer space or from another dimension. 
The Residents

Randy?The Residents cover of Hank Williams, "Six More Miles (to the Graveyard)", was a highlight towards the beginning of the show.  Randy stood toward the front of the stage holding a rectangular light pressed against the side of his face.  It was of the type a mechanic would use to hang from the bottom of a car on a lift.  Baring his teeth in an anxiety ridden, fearful ear-to-ear grin, his face glowed, the archetypical flashlight shining upwards on the storyteller next to the campfire.  The annunciation of each mood and emotion was eloquently articulated in the exaggerated dance and expressions of Randy’s many faces.  He is an aged clown, sharing his ghost stories, which he will have you believe could be real. 

Hanging over him were three white discs, screens for the projections that beamed from a device in Randy’s hand.  The distorted faces of storytellers lit up these screens as Randy waived his hand side to side, moving the characters from the left screen to the middle to the right screen and back again.  During "Perchance to Dream", a bug-eyed woman tells the audience the unfortunate tale of her husband’s death and how she fell on top of the coffin lowered into its grave as her mother in Bob?law beat her with a purse.  For "Unseen Sister", we meet another distorted woman who explains how her mother was killed, scalded by a pot of boiling water, by her imaginary twin sister.

For the encore, the players returned to close the night with a couple of songs about death.  Randy, in a white furry coat lined with fabric printed skulls on black, lights glowing from underneath, sang about a cowboy denied his dying wish and "Buried on a Lone Prairie".  Their final song, "Die Stay Go", reminded the crowd that there’s "no going back," not after what they have seen and heard this night.  The Residents’ ability to create a fourth dimensional atmosphere, a circus on acid styled musical landscape, is a rare example of storytelling that is seldom seen on this home planet.  They will take you on a mesmerizing journey, with colorful lights, freakish characters and some scary stories about life and death.
The Residents

Help The Residents raise the funds to cover the cost of the 3-D movie they are making of the last two nights of the tour in San Francisco in April.  Go to their Kickstarter site

The following is the set list from the show.  It has been a set list used for many ‘Talking Light Tour’ shows (2010-2011):

1.  Smelly Tongues
2.  The SleepwalkerRandy?
3.  The Talking Light
4.  Six More Miles (To the Graveyard) (Hank Williams cover)
5.  I Believe in Ghosts
6.  They Are The Meat
7.  He Also Serves
8.  The Mirror People (1)
9.  Perchance to Dream
10.  Semolina
11.  My Window
12.  Death In Barstow
13.  The Mirror People (2)
14.  The Unseen Sister
15.  The Mirror People (3)
16.  The Old Woman
17.  Lillie
18.  Bury Me Not (On the Lone Prairie)
19.  Die-Stay-Go (no going back)
The Residents

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