By CRAIG HAMMONS
The Residents started their 2018 In Between Dreams tour of North America back at the historic Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. These purveyors of the avant-garde and bizarre brought their brand of music to their fanatical fans for an evening of surprise and wonder. Every tour has a different set of songs, costumes, sets and dynamics so you never know what you’re going to get at a Residents show.
The followers of these men of mystery showed up early to mark their spot to witness music heard so deeply that they become the music while it lasts. Tonight was a seated show which is the best way to see The Residents as you want to soak in every moment without any interruption.
The band hit the stage promptly at 9 p.m. and their unpredictable set got underway. We were now in the wonderful world of The Residents and ready to dream with our eyes and ears open.
The lead singer was dressed like a cow in drag while the rest of the members wore long beaked steampunk bird masks, bowler hats and psychedelic checkered suits and matching ties. They created a full sound with flourishing keyboards, electronic drums and abundance of guitar wizardry. Opening with “Jelly Jack the Boneless Boy” and “Mickey the Mumbling Midget” from their album Freak Show we were already transcending into their world.
During the show there was a giant eyeball globe on a pedestal that would project video images explaining the next dream. The first was Dream No. 1: The Cowboy Song. A very bleak bit of surreal blues. Next up was “The Black Behind” and “The Monkey Man” played with perfection. The Residents do play a few covers and did their version of “It’s a Man’s Man’s World” with the lead cow singer working the stage like James Brown in reverse.
The lights went down and the globe lit up for Dream No. 2: The Train Wreck Dream in which Mother Teresa describes her dream of being in a train wreck. The music started and we were living that dream as they did “Train vs Elephant” from a true story where a elephant derailed a train and “Rushing Like a Banshee” from their recent release “The Ghost of Hope” which is all about unique train wrecks from the 19th century.
After doing a psychedelic version of “From the Plains Of Mexico” it was now time for Dream No. 3: Nixon Sings the Blues. Suddenly in the ball there is Nixon talking about being a blues singer in a band he formed during the Watergate scandal with Kissinger on piano and Al Haig on guitar.
Next up was a preview of a couple songs from their upcoming blues oriented album. They started with “Die! Die! Die!” which lead cow singer screamed like he had hoof and mouth disease. As he came over to my side of the stage I started singing the chorus with him. They did another track from the upcoming release called “Tell Me” but I can’t tell you what it was about.
Before the night was over it was time for Dream No. 4: The Ballerina Dream in which John Wayne reminisced about a lone ballerina that keeps disappearing when he attempts to approach her. The Residents then pulled another classic from the great American songbook and did a weird and twisted version of “Teddy Bear” before ending the night with a loop of the cow lead signer reciting “there is no more to say now” as the band slowly left the stage one by one. This was a super sonic mind bender of a show.
They did come back out for an encore of a old Hank Williams tune called “Six More Miles to the Graveyard” from their album “Stars and Hank Forever.” It was the a perfect ending for a legendary show that will live on in the history of The Residents.