The Residents have been messing with your head since 1972. Alternative music? They’re the picture in the dictionary next to the definition. And in that picture is four guys (now three) wearing costumes. Sod your Slipknot, the Residents were wearing eyeballs on their heads when you – or your older brother – were in diapers. When I was a teen, the video and song for their cover of James Brown’s It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World blew my tiny mind. They creeped me out. Still do.
Think about it. 1972. That’s nearly FORTY years of pre-punk, punk, post-punk, experimental concept music. That’s 60 albums, countless DVDs and a whole whack of brain-melting voices and stories. That’s staying anonymous, releasing avant-garde art on the fringe of the fringes of the music world for their entire career. They are serious O.G – Original Ghoulish. Werd.
And, so, the Residents came to Vancouver on March 17 to usher forth their ghastly, ghostly, groovy Talking Light tour.
We went. And one of us wore a giant eyeball. Here’s what happened (click on the photos to embiggen):
This is Hey Benson. Last year, she dressed up as an eyeball for Hallowe’en. This year, she says, “the Eyeball never thought it would be able to attend a Residents concert. Now it is complete.”
The Residents are “Randy”, “Chuck” and “Bob”. “Carlos” used to be in the band. “You might have known us to always be four,” said Randy. “Well, Carlos retired. He’s gone.” Also gone are the eyeballs. Instead? Ummmm….See above. This is Randy, the Residents’ lead singer/story teller/actor/terrifier. Randy was also wearing a pair of red and black argyle print Jo Boxers over top of shiny white leggings. He lurched and slunk around the stage. He waved his arms about. Randy was going to give me nightmares.
The set was decorated with a musty blue sofa, covered in a doily. A fireplace burned fake fire. A green furry lamp sat on the mantle, along with some toy things, a TV with static and a gingerbread man. Chuck and Bob flanked either side. “We thought we’d invite you into our living room”, said Randy. Man, Residents, your living room is CREEPY.
This is Chuck. He played a mean, uh, almost everything. Samples, keyboard, his Mac. He was mostly hunched over, possibly because it was hard to see his loops through round goggles and black mesh. The songs – “Demons Dance Alone”, “Six More Miles (to the Graveyard)”, “We are the Meat”, “Death in Barstow”, among ‘em – were eerie and fuckin’ spooky. Bob played like a heavy metal hero – sitting down – as the stories cut in between the warp and weft of bent guitar sounds. MUMMY, I’m scared!
…particularly of THIS guy. THIS guy had a southern drawl and talked about a dead baby in a box needing a proper burial. Randy slithered around the stage with a fancy mini-projector and made sure that THIS guy told his heinous tale across three round screens. And also the ceiling. THIS guy was also going to give me nightmares. So was the woman who said her “Unseen Sister” made her do evil things. And the old harpy who was worried about her plants.
Yup, lossa nightmares.
“THE MIRROR PEOPLE!” Randy screamed. “THE MIRROR PEOPLE!” Then he introduced us to his mirror and shone it at us…well, first at…
…THE ALL-SEEING EYEBALL in the audience! It watched intently during the entire gig. And never blinked. And Randy gave the Eyeball a lot of eyeballin’ himself. And it was around this time that dude behind us slipped The Eyeball a small piece of paper. Tiny. Square. It fell out of the Eyeball’s hand (yeah, alright, Eyeballs can have hands, so what?) to the floor. The Eyeball showed me its empty hand. We think it was slipped a tab of acid. So good thing it fell to the floor! You should probably never take acid at a Residents show. I’m just sayin’. Because things like this might seriously fuck you up…
…Like, for example, a fake fur coat with white lights inside and lined with skulls, worn whilst shouting “Die-Stay-Go”? Yeah, like that.
Two hours later, and an encore, the Residents left the stage…to the theme from “Ghostbusters”. Of course they did! BUT! The night was still young for….
…THE EYEBALL! The Eyeball had to pose for pictures. Twenty, maybe more. Fans, high-fiving (yeah, eyeballs have hands, okay?) and hugging The Eyeball. Media asking The Eyeball to pose outside the Rickshaw…
The Eyeball gave the photographers a thumbs up. Yeah, Eyeballs can have thumbs, too. Soon, it was time to screw with everyone else in Vancouver’s heads. For The Eyeball decided to walk all the way home avec l’oeil. And that night, I had nightmares. But mostly probably because of the beer.
Residents, you were seriously bad ass. Double rockhands – and a giant Eyeball – to you. \m/© \m/
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