An Evening with The Residents – The Talking Light Tour
at the Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, Wednesday, February 10
(18+ show)

The Residents, circa 1986

The Residents, circa 1986

“Four interior decorators of the Apocalypse”

I’ll begin with this disclaimer: this is going to be a woefully inadequate introduction to a long-standing and highly regarded multimedia performance art troupe (and yes, I suppose you could also call them a band), The Residents. I feel I must say something to commemorate their upcoming performance at the Middle East Downstairs this Wednesday, though with the bands long and lavish history (and my time limitation due to a ton of other stuff breathing down my neck), I won’t be able to do more than give a brief nod – so my apologies in advance to their loyal fans.

The members of The Residents first came together around 1969, though their first single as “The Residents”, Santa Dog, wasn’t released until 1972. Their debut album, Meet the Residents, followed in 1974. Since then, they’ve released over 50 (that’s fifty) albums, and they’ve also put out several DVDs. Their music is highly experimental – avant-jazz, classical, electronic, industrial, psychedelic – influenced by such artists as Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Captain Beefheart. Believing in The Residents as a sentient being rather than a collection of individual egos, they’ve remained anonymous throughout their 40 years, forever in disguise – the most instantly recognizable, of course, being their giant eyeballs, for which the band has become known (one of which I’ve just heard was actually stolen from a show; I think this is the second time that’s happened?). I remember first seeing their incredibly bizarre videos in the early days of MTV (as fortune would have it, very few music videos were available at the time, so the MTV execs took what they could get). They’ve followed their own lead and have stayed cutting-edge and decidedly non-commercial, but with a large cult following. They release their recordings on their own Ralph Records, which they founded in 1972.

For anyone wishing to learn more, they have a large and impressive official site, and I especially recommend the historical section, which has a crazy amount of information.

MySpace | Facebook | Official site | YouTube | The Residents’ Robot Selling Device (music downloads) | RalphAmerica – official merch outlet: Online store | Twitter

The Residents Upcoming Shows

Feb. 7 – Washington DC – 9:30 Club
Feb. 8 – Philadelphia PA – World Cafe
Feb. 9 – New York NY – Webster Hall
Feb. 10 – Boston MA – Middle East
Feb. 12 – Montreal QC – Club Soda
Feb. 13 – Toronto Ontario – Opera House
Feb. 15 – Chicago IL – Logan Square
Feb. 16 – Milwaukee WI – Turner Hall

A European tour follows at the end of April (France, Belgium, Norway, Germany, a UK festival, Netherlands, and Italy).

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