“Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts” — T.S. Eliot
By CRAIG HAMMONS
The mighty and majestic trio known as The Residents opened the first show of their Shadowland North American Film and Concert Tour at the Regent Theatre in Los Angeles.
These legends of the bizarre offered us a unique opening act, a screening of their new film Theory of Obscurity: A Film about The Residents later followed by a live performance covering a wide span of their 40 years together.
Under cloudy skies the dedicated fans and followers of these men of mystery started arriving and lining up for a show of a lifetime as The Residents don’t perform that often.
Once the doors opened at the old renovated downtown movie theatre, we all came together as one happy family ready to welcome Randy, Chuck and Bob (who has since retired and has been replaced by his brother Ricco) — otherwise known as The Residents.
The movie The Theory of Obscurity: A film about The Residents is a history of the band from their inception until the present day. We follow them as they head to San Francisco to begin their distinctive and original art and music career. The history of The Residents is unique in the sense that the details surrounding the group have always remained a secret. We didn’t even know their names until recently.
I love the fact that The Residents have always done things their way to make their original musical world of art rock. The film is full of fun and facts, good music and crazy imagery. The movie weaves the tale of The Residents by vintage footage and interviews from many fans including Jerry Harrison, Penn Jillette, Jerry Casale and their biggest fan Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons.
One thing I learned is how they got their name. They were living in a pad in San Francisco and got some mail one day that was addressed to “Resident.” “They must be talking about us,” they said, and adopted the name at once.
Once the movie was over there was a 30-minute intermission prior to these lads of weirdness taking the stage. As no two tours or shows are ever the same, we didn’t know what to expect.
The lights dimmed and it was time for Shadowland Part III of the Randy, Chuck and Bob show. We were ready for the unpredictable and got it.
The Residents have a vast catalog of songs to choose from. Shadowland included some of their classic songs such as “Harold the Head,” “Constantinople” and “Easter Woman.” The crowd was in heaven as they ran thru these classics.
Randy came out dressed like a tired old man in a muscle body suit with a pot belly, checkered speedo, tails and shoes 20 times two big. He prowled the stage like a drunk grandpa dancing at his daughter’s wedding. Chuck dressed like a reggae creature from outer space with a nice white suit and let his guitar speak for him. Ricco looked like Chuck’s pregnant bastard son in a prison suit manning the keyboards with grace and wizardry.
During the show there was a giant ball on a pedestal that showed clips that referred to the next set of songs. After opening with Rabbit Habit the first movie in the ball was “The Butcher” which showcased Benny (The Bouncing Bump), next was “The Libertine”, “The Garbage Man,” “The Diver” and “The Engineer Movie.” They seemed to reinvent some of the older songs and gave them a new twist.
Don’t let anybody tell you The Residents don’t know how to play their instruments. These guys may play experimental music but they don’t miss a note.
Chuck shreds on guitar getting sounds you would never expect plus he plays a mean slide. All these pieces came together for a well-rounded show to satisfy all your senses.
They ended the show with “Ship of Fools” and this offbeat trio of guitar, keyboards and vocals captured our mind as well as our souls. We all left happy and glad we got to spend some time in the wonderful world of The Residents.
SET LIST – The Regent, Los Angeles,
April 9, 2016
The Rabbit Habit
Herman, the Human Mole
Harry the Head
Benny (the Bouncing Bump)
They Are All Meat
Is He Really Bringing Roses
Weight Lifting Lulu
Constantinople (Randy parading around the stage with big bass drum)
Easter Woman (a favorite of mine)
My Second Wife
Loss of Innocence
Melon collie Lassie
Hard and Tenderly
Ship of Fools
Forty Four No More.