Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Residents at the Gramercy Theatre

Very little is known about the Residents, the oddest concept band that rock music has ever not known. The identity of the band members have at best been identified as Randy, Chuck and Bob, but the musicians have never done an interview with the press to discuss either the Residents or the band's music. According to legend, whether true or false, the Residents started in 1969 as an art experiment in Louisiana, relocated to San Mateo, California, and later moved to San Francisco. Since 1974, the band has released more than 60 albums without ever having a hit song. The band's most recent albums include a studio version of Shadowland in 2014 and a similarly titled live album in 2015.

The opening act at the Gramercy Theatre was a 2015 documentary about the Residents called Theory of Obscurity, which was not intended to explain away the mysterious band but to recap the project's bizarre and ambitious history. This was followed by a live performance of Shadowland, which collected much of the Residents' songs about rebirth, reincarnation, and near-death experiences. Randy, the vocalist, explained that Chuck had left the band and was replaced by Chuck's cousin Rico on keyboards, as Bob continued on guitar. Compared to earlier tours, this show was stripped down, with fewer costume changes and a more minimal stage set, but the concept included several video character monologues projected onto a globe. While the visuals were stimulating, the odd and sometimes jarring music was challenging to bear for the uninitiated. More than weird for weirdness sake, the avant garde performance was designed for rarified tastes in theatrical art rock.

Visit the Residents at www.residents.com.