Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Elvis Costello: Some thoughts in advance of his upcoming Vancouver show (WITH ADDED POST-SCRIPT)

There are plenty of Elvis Costello songs that I love. For awhile I followed him, and at one point or other - possibly even at the same time! - I had in my collection everything from My Aim Is True (from 1977), which remains my favourite of his albums, through to 1989's Spike. He's always been prolific, so that means that, in my 20s, I had his first twelve albums, plus the Taking Liberties comp and the Live at the El Mocambo bootleg. But I had to confess to myself by Spike that he had exhausted me; as with Robert Pollard, more recently, committing to Elvis Costello fandom requires sort of signing on to an album a year, minimum, which was just ALWAYS going to be more Elvis Costello than I needed; plus as with Joe Jackson, he hasn't lingered on his early sound, has expanded his explorations in directions that I am sure were interesting and rewarding to him... but which weren't always what I wanted, especially since those were my punk and grunge years that we're talkin' about. I have never lost respect for him, but I have owned none of the 21 albums he's put out since 1991, haven't even heard any of them to completion. I contemplated Hey Clockface*, based on reviews and the recommendations of friends, but I never actually bit (I liked the single but I only listened to it twice and now don't recall the name). At some point I just faced it: If I'm going to spin an Elvis Costello album, it's gonna be My Aim is True, This Year's Model, Imperial Bedroom, or Blood and Chocolate - the four that remain in my collection. Occasionally I pick up King of America at a shop and wonder if I should re-add that, but I haven't yet. ("The Imposter" is so great that I sometimes think of getting Get Happy!!, too, but I'll wait til I see it somewhere for cheap). If I knew for sure that there was an album I was going to connect with to the same extent that I connect with the four unquestionable keepers, I would give it a shot  But... but... life is short, and, like - uhh, here he's working with a string quartet... here he's working with Burt Bacharach... I mean, no disrespect, but I don't even own any Carpenters, fer chrissake... "Adult contemporary" is not really a genre I travel in...

However: not only do I love those four albums that I still have (especially "Tokyo Storm Warning" - jeezus, whatta song), I quite respect Elvis Costello's career. He's always made interesting moves, from acting in Alex Cox's Straight to Hell (which I love and have interviewed both Zander Schloss and Alex Cox about) to hosting that TV show (I don't watch TV much but I enjoyed what I saw) to appearing, the only time I saw him perform live, at the Hal Willner Neil Young Tribute, where he blew EVERYONE off the stage (even Lou Reed) by doing what no one had even really ATTEMPTED to do, daring to channel Young's aggro, expressive, passion-driven guitar style. I forget now if he did "Cowgirl in the Sand" or "Down by the River" but whichever tune it was, him going to town on the solos was seriously the high point of the night, made even more delightful by the fact that no one really expected Costello to sound like he was in Crazy Horse. I mean, who'da thunk? (Lou just did a kinda straightforward cover of "Helpless," which was fine, but in no way all that inspired, and certainly no workout for him. I don't even remember who else was on stage that night... I wrote about it here, back in 2010...).

I only crossed paths with Mr. Costello, quite literally, one other time, attending that Nick Cave Q&A concert at the Massey in New West, where he and Ms. Krall were just moving through the audience in their own leisurely way, unmolested by anyone that I could see. Just folks. Everyone around them was going "But, but... that's Elvis Costello and Diana Krall," wondering what to do or say, but they didn't seem to mind or care. I admired the hell out of it. They didn't seem standoffish, they weren't bursting with ego, they weren't doing anything special to telegraph their boundaries; they were just two people out for a show, who simply did not expect to be bothered, and so they weren't (even Nick Cave was surprised when someone pointed out that they were in the audience, when it came up during one of the questions). I can't say why it impressed me so much, but it did. "Damn, I wish he'd play a show here, I'd like to see him at least once," I thought that night. And have thought so several times since, as I sing along to "Beyond Belief" or "Blame It on Cain" or play "Tokyo Storm Warning" on my headphones while walking to the Skytrain.  

So: I bought a pre-sale ticket for the upcoming show, and am really excited about it - more than you'd think I might be, given that he is someone I have not bought (or downloaded or streamed or borrowed or otherwise listened to) an album by since 1989. His recent setlists suggest he is playing plenty of songs I know and love, so I'm puttin' $150 into this and have no regrets. Also, I blew my chance to see Nick Lowe - the man who wrote "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" - when he was last in town, was exhausted from a day's work and just gave the tickets away... so that's even cooler, that he's opening. I'm a fan of his, too, and loved Los Straitjackets, who are backing him, when they were in town for Marshall Crenshaw. I gotta get the Walkabout album - "Tokyo Bay" is a terrific song. Lowe and Costello are both men I've wanted to see for a long time, so... this is gonna be great, eh? 

I think there are Live Nation pre-sales continuing tomorrow, btw (but I don't know the code; I got the artist pre-sale by signing up to receive newsletters via his website). There were tons of good seats left, though. My friends and I ended up 21 rows from the stage, which cost about $140 odd dollars per ticket, if you factor in the insurance and such. Not bad! (Closer than that got pricy fast, though). I'd rather see Elvis Costello than Bruce Springsteen any day, and $140 is nothing to see a guy I've been listening to and enjoying for forty years (even if "Tokyo Storm Warning" is unlikely to appear...).

Incidentally, I received no money for this ad, just lifted it off Facebook and am posting it here for the hell of it, because what else am I going to illustrate this with? (Has Bev shot him...? Nope!).  

*Post-script: a couple of weeks later and I've fallen in love with Hey Clockface and The Boy Named If (which you can find on vinyl for a mere $31.99 at Red Cat). When I Was Cruel also seems really cool, and I love what I've heard of Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, his roots album, which comes recommended by a friend. I've also been gifted that Burt Bacharach collaboration and told it is amazing, and have been assured by Dale at Noize that Look Now is also a top-drawer album that I need to investigate. BTW, Costello fanatics are advised that there is quite a selection of rarities at Zulu at the moment, quite modestly priced... I am probably not plunging much deeper than Look Now (which I have yet to really try, one or two songs aside) but it does look like the 21st century has been very productive for Mr. Costello, and in terms of his last album, a real return to ROCK, which is welcome by me. This is why you HAFTA tour now and then, I guess: to get people like me off our asses, so we check out what you've been doing lately. I'm real glad I am! 

Ford Pier and Selina Martin at the Lido tonight! (ie., Thursday, March 30th) - plus Victims Family tie-in

I do not know Selina Martin's music well. She was first mentioned to be by John Wright, the former Nomeansno drummer and Hanson Brothers vocalist, who has included her (and Ford Pier, and members of Invasives and Wrong) on his upcoming post-NMN solo release, which we gather has been retitled from 3-2=1 to Dead Bob, via a suggestion from Craig Bougie. That is happening soon (but I don't know when). I have checked out her bandcamp and enjoyed it - it's not my usual style of music, but it's richly textured and intelligent and quite soothing, and I'm eager to hear her singing "Life Like" - a vastly underrated Nomeansno track that John will be revisiting on the album with her help. And I am further keen to see Ford Pier again, having finally graduated from watching him as an opening act to consuming his music as a main course (tho' I guess he's technically the opening act this time). They go way back. I did a quick email interview with Ford, for thems that want to know more.

Allan: What is your history with Selina? Will you be joining her for her set, or are you just opening, or...? What was the last time you saw her perform?

Ford: Selina and I have been friends since the late '90's and sharing bills since then, I'd venture to say. I've been a provisional member in some of her live lineups on a few different instruments, although I don't think I've been on any of her records. She sang some backing vocals on at least one of mine I think. We've just been a part of each other's lives for so long I find it difficult to pinpoint events and milestones. I was there, she was there, we did what we were doing... a musical with One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary, a German tour... the usual.

You haven't played live much since COVID - is there a reason? Are you working on anything, or just not feeling it, or...?

Just, um, how do you say? "Keeping my powder dry?" Haven't been asked much.

Will we be hearing new songs from you? Anything you will be playing special to the occasion?

I released a new song, as is my wont, on March 26th, which is my 1/2-birthday as well as the actual birthday of my friend Ryan Beattie from Himalayan Bear and Wayfinder and many other worthwhile listenable things. Over the last couple of years, I've seized upon this date arbitrarily to offer something new to the interested, and to spur me from my otherwise overpowering lassitude. I think I'll try to actually play it tomorrow... which has never been done before.

Belief In The Heart, by Ford Pier
track by Ford Pier

You have a couple of cool guest appearances on albums that have come out (Specimen Box) and/ or are coming out (John Wright's project, which I guess is now called Dead Bob?). Any comment on either of those? What did you do?

Answered emails from my friends, went down to the jamspace with a microphone and a laptop and a six pack. I think I have a little bit more to do with John's next record than this one (they're John's records. His famous egolessness and demotic sensibility goad him to define these recordings as the work of a "band," but they're John Wright albums.) With Larry (Boothroyd, of Victims Family, for Specimen Box) it was like, "Hey, if I gave you this track what would you put on top of it?" And he did that with an extended network of amazing contributors that I'm humbled to be included in. None of us knew who we were playing with! The results speak for themselves and obliterate whatever curiosity there might linger about which band this guy is from or have these guys ever met. It's like a Monkey's Paw scenario of 17-year-old me being asked, "How would you like to be on an album with members of Victims Family, Nomeansno, Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, FEAR, and Alice Donut?" Except... it's in 2023. With all 2023's attendant inconveniences.

Thanks, Ford! Specimen Box can be purchased locally at Red Cat Records, of course. Unless it sold out? For more information about the Lido show, see here

Saturday, March 25, 2023

My favourites of my own Residents photos from the other night

 Before people forget...


All photos by Allan MacInnis, not to be reused without permission

Devolution by Max Brooks; Cocaine Bear; and The Scratch live in Vancouver - a report from my weekend

So a few entertainments OTHER than the Residents have crossed my path of late that I want to note. 

Fans of survival horror will definitely want to check out Max Brooks' Devolution, which is a Pacific Northwest Sasquatch tale that I had previously somehow missed until I saw it in a remainder bin last week: "Ooh, what's this?" It's being adapted for film now, but Brooks' previous high-profile novel-to-film transition, World War Z, while not bad, seemed to lose many of its more interesting aspects in favour of things like a linear narrative involving a single unifying group of characters... to say nothing of the film's striking absence of significant zombie gore, which is kinda like a Fred Astaire movie without tap dancing. I mean, who knows - if they do it well, Devolution-the-movie could be up there with Rituals and Clearcut as a classic of the survival-horror genre. We'll see. Reading the book, and thinking of other books of its ilk that I have read in recent years, I'm more reminded of Jack Ketchum's Off Season, which I think may have been the last novel I made it through, cover to cover (I wrote some notes about the Ketchum book here; it is a more unpleasant read than Devolution, but also very gripping and even more visceral, especially when the feral humans in the novel get to, uh, cooking. There are some memorable "recipes," as Ketchum calls them, though only in the unexpurgated edition...).

I suppose there's a bit of The Hills Have Eyes to Devolution, too - there's a waving severed arm that brings that film to mind, in particular; but Brooks is actually a bit more optimistic about people than Craven (or Ketchum), and also a bit more invested in cryptozoology (as much, at least, as Bobcat, say).  The most striking character, Mostar, is an older, female Eastern European refugee - a Bosnian? - turned artist, who commands a very large presence and takes the lead in sequences of crisis; it's kinda great to have an old immigrant lady yelling in some unidentified Slavic language that the Sasquatches should "get back in their mother's cunt" as she brandishes a torch at them. Haven't quite encountered a character like her in fiction before, loving her, and keen to see who gets the role in the film. There aren't enough cranky European female refugees turned artists in American horror literature, at least not in the slow trickle of books I've read in the last few years. 

...And nevermind how much I am enjoying THIS book, which, incidentally, is about a small group of high-tech/ low impact people in an elite, remote, planned community who find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by the eruption of Mt. Rainier, which is followed by a siege of hungry Sasquatches escaping the explosion (and looking for food),... perfect as it may be for me right now, I'm really loving just reading a book of any sort, for a change, this week. Wife's been away so I've had some time and space to myself and for once I've spent more time reading than writing (or doing housework or watching movies!). I haven't finished a novel in a loooong time (started a few), and it's just a great experience; I wish I had more time and energy for it, in general. 

Anyhow, assuming I'd be consuming something along the lines of the survival horror genre, while killing time between my job and tonight's show at the Rickshaw, I checked out Elizabeth Banks' new film Cocaine Bear. I wasn't expecting much, but it would be hard to entirely wreck a premise so obviously fun - cocaine-fueled black bear on the rampage! Still, I had my moments of doubt, as they played the story a lot less straight than I thought they would, with a lot of winking, lowbrow, broad-as-a-barn-side humour, even during some of the gory kills. I was wanting and expecting more horror than comedy, or at least something along the lines of William Girdler's Grizzly - available in a fine, fine blu-ray from Severin - which is positively staid compared to Cocaine Bear, which is tonally more similar to something like The Scouts' Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, say (another film I was a bit embarrassed to thoroughly enjoy). 

Cocaine Bear also surprised me by having entirely CGI bears, which is shocking considering a low-budget shlockmeister like Girdler actually splashed out for a real grizzly, in his film. Have bears gone up in price, or is it really and truly cheaper to hire a team of animators...? (I should imagine it is cheaper to get insurance if you have no real bears on set). On the other hand, they do make the bear pretty expressive. I mean, it would be hard to get a real bear to act as totally WRECKED as this bear is. It staggers, gets confused, rolls around, bonks its head into a tree, passes out... this bear is fucked up, which I think characters actually say in the film now and then. I didn't complain that there were no gorillas on set for King Kong, so...

"Is there more?"
Anyhow, it's definitely a b-movie, and the fact that I rank a William Girdler film above it should give you pause, but still, I laughed aloud more than once; I think this is what people call a "good popcorn movie." (Call me a sourpuss, but I do not like to think of movies in terms of how well they facilitate the function of eating popcorn).

Oh, and Margo Martindale is in it. You've seen her in tons of stuff - she's sort of the female equivalent of M. Emmett Walsh, I guess, which I hope she would realize I mean as a compliment. She has said she loves looking "fat and crazy" in the film, expressed her surprise to be in it at all, and other people have identified her raging about having a bear bite her in the ass as the high point of the film

If he's lacking in projects, Seth Rogen is now well placed to do a part two to Cocaine Bear where mebbe the same bear (...because, spoiler alert, the bear lives!) eats a giant truckload of gummies and has a very different sort of adventure. There is at least potential for a very good title, there (tho' Rogen probably has a "gummy bear" joke about a different kind of bear, already, I'm guessing). 

As for my first post-Residents live music experience, nothing can make a man feel old and unhip to discover a band he has never heard of before this week, go to a show almost on a whim, thinking there will be, what, a couple dozen people there at best - like thinkin' he's practically doin' the band a favour by showing up - to discover that the venue is packed to the rafters with people twenty years younger, much better-looking, and all apparently more hip to what's new and cool than he is. But when I finally arrived (rushing from Cocaine Bear) at the Rickshaw to catch The Scratch, already well into their set, I was like... gee, the venue is packed, it's hot, I'm tired and uncomfortable, it's way louder than I thought it was gonna be, and the bar guy is trying to make me go upstairs to check my bag, which I don't want to have to pay to do. So I left after about four songs. The good news is I got video of three (?) of them, which at least one fan will be very happy to see. Lindsay? Lindsey? Linsey? Anyone know how she spells her name? Tell her this exists, okay? Does anyone know who this is?

I mean, they were in good hands with the audience and the audience was in good hands with them - they did not need me. And, like, I sang along to "Dirty Old Town" from the floor at the Commodore (along with everyone else) when Joe Strummer and the Shane MacGowan were co-fronting the Pogues there, so I got nothin' to prove. In the end, I decided that I would rather come home and read Max Brooks (next Rickshaw show I am keen to see is Screaming Females: Mo is apparently a big fan. I might do something here, but I hafta catch up on their music a bit, first, and clear some long-delayed stuff).

Not a bad week, really, somewhat lonely tho' it has been (Erika's friend invited her to go travelling so it is my first week without my wife - I wasn't even separated from her this long when I was in the hospital). I actually moved into the centre of the bed for one night, but it was too weird, so I moved back to my side. But I have a kitten to play with, a Sasquatch novel, and the Residents have stoked my fire to listen to Hank Williams again (which I've been alternating with Mark of the Mole). So I'm getting by. I think I will be missing Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs at the WISE Hall this Sunday, since that's the night Erika gets back, but go in my place and have a fun time, okay...? Bev sez they're great. 

Plus I have a kitten to tend to. Lookit'im go!

Friday, March 24, 2023

I interviewed Homer again

 Brief but fun... figured I'd already had plenty of stuff on my blog so I gave it to Stereo Embers, who are real nice people (and were enthusiastic about my two-parter on Zander Schloss last year).

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Residents: a concert review, Vancouver 2023 - a worthy 50 year celebration

All photos by Bob Hanham, March 18, 2023; not to be reused without permission

My friend David M. - the only person I know who covers the Residents, FEAR, and Bruce Springsteen in his live sets - has said that he loves shows that do not go as planned, where bands have to improvise, adapt, make adjustments. He finds that a degree of chaos, frustrating as it can be for musicians, often results in a better, more memorable show. 

He should have come to see the Residents last night.
It was the Residents show I have enjoyed most of the three I have seen, an amazing, crowd-pleasing representation of highlights from their long career, including, unbelievably, "Smelly Tongues," which I never thought I'd get to hear live. But it was also by far the show most beset with difficulties of the three, stripped down by circumstance beyond what was intended, so David might be onto something, there. I did not envy the challenges faced (all of which, I believe, can be blamed on the US/ Canada border crossing; the Hollywood Theatre did everything right that I could see, and seems a fine, fine space for live music). I felt bad for the band, on a couple of fronts, but from the point of view of a selfish fan, last night's show was a delight from start to finish, with the only disappointments (no merch) being somewhat epiphenominal, if you see what I mean.        

I did not get an authoritative point of view about how things happened, but word spread via various channels as people chatted up the unexpectedly-present Vancouver soundman Chris Crud (who did an amazing job with the sound) or reported stories from people who talked to people who had dined with a member of the band... A picture emerged: there were key members of the crew that did not get across the border, from the soundman to the merchpeople. If merch was packed on the tour bus, the crew who DID get across the border were unable to find it for the hopefuls who stood around the tour bus afterwards, hoping to buy a t-shirt - including a drunk girl who was hoping to get one for $10! It was to no avail: wherever the boxes were packed, there was no time or manpower to dig them out, let alone let us pick through them. The band also had to load out almost immediately, because - neverminding crossing back to join up with their soundman and merch guy, waiting, I guess, in Seattle - there was a kink show set to start at the Hollywood at 10:00, with the audience for that show waiting in the lobby as security urged Residents fans towards the exits and a clown in a green wig and a bondage-cum-fishnet-lingere costume loaded crates of equipment in from a U-Haul parked outside ("the changing of the guard," I quipped; it pleases me to know that there are, apparently, people with a fetish for clowns in green wigs, though I myself am not one). And finally, there were tech difficulties: there was supposed to be a video component projected on the screen, the content of which remains almost entirely unknown to me, as other than a Residents' 50th anniversary logo that started the night off, all we got of the multimedia component were occasional HDMI error messages (see pic above) that flickered on the screen while the wrong people, I guess, occasionally ventured forth to lamely push buttons on the projector and shrug. Ultimately the projector was just turned off and the white circle in the set design that was supposed to serve as a screen remained a white circle. A zero. Which in its own way, is perfect too, and went mercifully unnoticed by most band members, since it was behind them on the stage.  

So I have no idea what the show had been supposed to look like. I have not seen the Residents since the days of Randy Rose - whose "death" is the partial theme of the film Triple Trouble, which screened before the concert, playing like a sort of Lynchian, expanded Twilight Zone episode. Directed by the Residents and Residents manager/ graphic designer Homer Flynn, the film tells the story of Randy's estranged son Randall, who is obsessed with a malign fungus that he believes is spreading through plumbing throughout San Francisco, and who occasionally receives spectral communications from his dead father (tho' be clear on this: the Residents' unfolding narrative may have Randy being dead, but the person who plays Randy, "the Singing Resident," is still very much alive and still singing for the Residents). Randy was a bit of a handful, as you may recall, offering cranky monologues, strange stories, and colourful, occasionally slightly digressive opinions between songs. Thanks to the film, where his ghost, like Hamlet's father, appears occasionally to impart advice to the mentally ill main character - a former priest turned plumber - we did get to taste a bit of Randy's philosophy (a speech about the importance of passion was particularly significant), but unless I missed something, the Singing Resident (whose current moniker I do not know) did not utter a word that was not a song lyric while on stage, mostly withdrawing into a contemplative, hands-folded pose between songs. 

The Singing Resident has very expressive hands. And he really should market those costume designs for pyjamas or something!

Whatever we were supposed to experience, the show we GOT was, happily, quite magnificent. As fulsome and rich and maximal as the show I caught at the Rio was, last night ended up, whether by design or default, a brilliantly-executed presentation of JUST THE SONGS. I'm the kind of music fan whose favourite moments at a concert often involve me listening with my eyes closed, such that the absence of much in the way of elaborate set design, costume changes, multimedia or so forth only helped me get into the music more; I was even able to dance a little (to "Diskomo!"). I welcomed the lack of distractions and while I was glad Randy did pop up in ghost form in the film, there probably wasn't enough TIME for him to talk much between songs, if he had manifested onstage... so it's just as well. Last night was maybe disappointing to people whose primary orientation towards the band is visual, who WANT the theatre and the multimedia and so forth (tho' Graham seemed to enjoy himself, and his background with the band is almost ALL video). But for people who just want to hear their favourite Residents songs... crikey it was good. 

...And possibly better than the Dog Stab! tour would have been, though who knows what that might have looked like had COVID not gotten in the way. Bubba Hodges of Cryptic explained it to me in a previous interaction, since the original tour was conceived - booked before COVID, and twice-cancelled, he wrote, 

the show has evolved quite a bit. It started primarily as a promotional vehicle for the Metal, Meat & Bone album which was new at the time. The entire album was to be played in that version with added selections from Duck Stab, mainly for the fans. When that one was cancelled, it evolved toward the 50TH anniversary with less MM&B, more Duck Stab and even a Third R'nR encore. That tour was cancelled except for three California shows in 2021. The next version - the one you will see in Vancouver - has retained a handful of both MM&B plus some Duck Stab songs and added quite a few "classics" to make it an authentic 50TH Anniversary show.

I made notes of the songs played, but they are likely incomplete, especially since a few songs were actually medleys of tunes, a verse or two from one morphing into a verse or two from another, starting with a mashup of  two Hank Williams songs, "The Singing Waterfall" and "Jambalaya" (as also yoked on Stars and Hank Forever). "Hello Skinny" was followed by "Cut to the Quick" off Metal, Meat & Bone, followed by "Laughing Song" off Duck Stab, which I wonder inspired Flipper with "Ha Ha Ha." That was followed by "Boxes Full of Armageddon" off The Bunny Boy, then "Bach is Dead" (and some song that seemed to have a lyric about Bach being born again, but maybe I was hearing that wrong?). "Cold as a Corpse," I think, morphed into "Would We Be Alive," which I think was the only song representing the (four-album, or is it five?) Mole Trilogy, appearing as it does on Intermission. We heard favourites like "Moisture" and "Constantinople," the latter with the singing Resident, in an acapella introduction, riffing at the end on the childish hide-and-go-seek intonation of "ready or not, here I come." "The Monkey Man" off Animal Lover appeared, though with a very different vocal and percussion that was less Harry-Partchlike than the studio version. There were a couple slightly obnoxious characters at the front, including someone who seemed pretty drunk, who got the stinkeye from a few of us for making himself a bit too audible between songs (word to the wiseguy: a better index of how much certain songs mean to you is for you to shut up and listen to them, compared to, say, turning to the people next to you, who do not know you or care, and explaining how much the song means to you in a booming cackle, so that everyone around you can hear you, too), but he also cheered loudly for Duck Stab!-era classics like "Semolina," was clearly a true fan of the band, so we cut him a little slack (tho' his buddy's drumming on the stage reminded me of Grant Hart chewing out some fans trying to clap along with "It's Not Funny Anymore," the one time I saw him: "You weren't at the rehearsal and you're not in the band!" he said, after which he started over. Two slightly obnoxious people in an audience of a few hundred is not that bad, however -- a better ratio than Vancouver shows usually have). 

There were some very deep dives in the set, at least relative to my knowledge of the band, like "Kill Him" off Wormwood, with its memorable chorus of "God said kill him!" or "Theme from Buckaroo Blues," which morphed into "The Stampede." (I do not know my CUBE-E material at all). You could tell people who did know these songs were very pleased by their inclusion (I might have liked to hear the song off The Mole Trilogy with the chant of, "Let my children live/ in a holy land," which is a weirdly evocative lyric that has been echoing in my head of late, but I had not come expecting any particular tunes and felt privileged that I recognized so many of them. I was mildly surprised that no Third Reich 'n Roll material was repped, but I guess if you open that can of worms, you're committing to a 20-minute set of it, so...). 

Since I see the setlist IS documented, on Setlist FM, I'll leave some of the songs off, here, but the closer to the main set was a terrific twofer of "Hungry Hound" (that's a live clip from a few months ago in Germany that, other than the presence of working multimedia projection, could have been what we saw the other night) and "Die Die Die" (that's a different video from the one I posted previously!). They're both Metal, Meat & Bone songs, which is the one album I would suggest people who know only their early Residents check out, since there is still quite a bit from it on the setlist. The encores were particularly satisfying ("When We Were Young" off The Commercial Album really amped up the energy, as did a rockin' "Diskomo," previously mentioned, And "Nobody Laughs When They Leave," off Freak Show, was a perfect show-closer, but given lie by the enormous grins I saw on the faces of the members of the audience thereafter - a few of whom got to high-five with a fellow in an eyeball mask who worked the crowd towards the end, though whether they were with the band or not is anyone's guess. We may not have been laughing as we left this particular freak show, but we sure were smilin'. While I had enjoyed the elements of overblown, multi-media theatre at the Rio and Randy's cranky, almost standup-comic-like monologues between songs at the Rickshaw, last night was ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, and to be honest... so am I. 

So I am very glad I went. I urge anyone on the fence about catching these shows to do so; they are a very worthy representation of the best of the Residents. If you don't necessarily have a huge investment in the lore of the Residents, if names like Randy Rose and Charles Bobuck (RIP) don't mean much to you, if you don't necessarily want to have your Residents served with between-song creepy mini-movies from the point of view of the mentally ill... if you know your Residents and just want to LISTEN TO THEIR MUSIC...

...this is the tour to catch. 

BTW, if the Singing Resident was no longer the speaking Resident, he kept up a very enjoyable routine of dancing, during the songs, with moves that I suspect probably helped keep his body loose and limber; one wonders if he does tai chi or something to keep fit. The Singing Resident - invisible behind his costume - could have been 25 or something, from how engaged his performance was, but he's a fair bit older than that! And he was in fine voice. There were some really powerful growls and roars for some of the later songs, tho' I cannot say which. He has done a much, much better job - given that he is at least in his mid-70's - of preserving his voice than some much younger singers. It's kind of amazing, really - and makes me hopeful that there will be a live album documenting this tour. I had not planned to go, initially, and am so glad I did. And I'll go the next time they're in town, too...

So see this show if you get the chance! (And note: the film Triple Trouble, which I had speculated was some sort of tour film, in fact is nothing of the sort, and comes out on video this next week and apparently will be in stock at Videomatica, though you can also buy it online. I enjoyed it and am probably going to pick it up. There is another Residents video coming out that day, too, but I do not recall what it is). 

Residents tour dates here! Catch them on their 50th anniversary! Buy or die! 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Weirdness Within: the Residents 50th Anniversary Vancouver Return, this Saturday, with a Welcome from Some Fans, also featuring (mostly previously unseen?) photos by Bev Davies, Bob Hanham, Erik Iversen and others!

1. On Interviewing Members of the Cryptic Corporation: Hardy, Homer, and, uh, Bubba?

I have interviewed two, or possibly three, members of the Cryptic Corporation, depending on who or what Bubba Hodges is (more on this below). Much of this has been because of my brief time contributing to the Georgia Straight, where I was getting paid to write about bands coming to town. Truth is, I am not actually that far down the Residents rabbithole. My introduction to them happened when I got the Third Reich 'n Roll off Ty Scammell at the Vancouver flea market somewhere in the late 1980's or early 1990's; from the over-the-top, Dick-Clark-as-Hitler cover art to the genius of sending up 50's pop music in a way that counts both as savage satire and deranged, mirthful, intoxicated, quasi-ritualistic celebration, the album has a richness that immediately appealed to me, even as I gaped in youthful horror, wondering what the exact fuck Ty had turned me onto. It remains my favourite Residents album, the album that would earn the band my lasting respect and admiration even if it had been the only thing they'd done, and the only one that has been more-or-less consistently in my collection in some form or another since those days (though it has had, and presently has, a fair bit of company). 

But I don't listen to the Residents every day. I have ventured just far enough into the weird world that the Residents curate to realize that, as with a very small handful of other bands (Swans, anyone?), they are a band of whom it may be said, the more you listen to them, the more you WANT to listen to them; and the more you WANT to listen to them, the less you want to listen to anything else. At some point you have to forcibly extract yourself, lest you start turning up at parties with an eyeball on your head; it's not just a rabbithole, it's a rabbithole with SUCTION, and you - or I, anyhow - actually find it a little unnerving. But you have to respect them for it: The Residents are truly one of the most unique bands in American popular music. A band like no other. I can see why some folks become obsessed, and why their brand should have 50 years worth of longevity. 

Hardy Fox - the deceased composer and musical director of the band - spoke with me for the Georgia Straight in 2011, prior to an amazing show at the Rickshaw (the Talking Light tour) circa Lonely Teenager. When Hardy's illness was announced, I posted some outtakes from that conversation on my blog, as well. He denied being a Resident, at that point, but was, at some point between his retirement from touring in 2015 and departure from this bardo in 2018, officially outed as a member of the Residents - though the New York Times was content to leave this matter ambiguous in his obituary. I'm sure Hardy would have enjoyed this fact - that confusion about his actual role in the band survived him in the press, even after the band itself has fessed up. It's a triumph of self-obfuscation that really has very little else to be compared to in popular culture... just like the Residents' music.

In truth, I had assumed throughout our conversation that the assurance that Hardy would not be onstage that night at the Rickshaw, when the show went on, was nothing more than a ruse, a posture, a game. Of COURSE Hardy Fox was one of the musicians who would be playing that night, I thought. But the challenge of the interview was not one of tricking him into confession, PROVING that he was a Resident - I realized I couldn't, not could I see the point - but of finding a way to ask someone about their music so that they could answer in an interesting and revealing way, while still being able to deny involvement in the making of it. How do I play by the Residents' rulebook, and still have an interesting and readable article? It's a fairly unique challenge for a journalist - a hard game to master, but also a somewhat fun one to play, and I suspect that many journalists have worked harder than I to rise to the challenge. There are probably people who have gotten very good at interviewing the Residents, but I am not one of them. 

To return to the point: never did I doubt, during the interview, that Hardy really WAS a member of the Residents. Except at that very show - which he did say he would be at, just not onstage - he did something that completely convinced me that he had truly not been up there, after all, since when I was exiting the venue after the show, coming up from the theatre into the foyer, I bumped into Hardy and a friend who were apparently coming in from the street, when most musicians would surely be chilling in the green room in back. I still have no idea what magic exit he had used to materialize around the front when the band had barely gotten off the stage - surely he didn't go out into the alley and do a three-quarters circumnavigation of the Rickshaw so as to pop in the front JUST IN CASE someone who knew his face might see him - no one would do such a thing, especially not given the neighbourhood, would they...? But there he was. I recognized him immediately. "You're Hardy Fox, aren't you?" I said. "I interviewed you. You really WEREN'T on stage, then!" 

Hardy just smiled. 

We chatted there for a few minutes in the Rickshaw lobby, with no one making a big deal of his being there, his anonymity apparently secure (because, y'know, he wasn't wearing a giant EYE on his head or anything; how interesting that he had the privacy and freedom to move un-harassed through his fans, afforded him because of the band's anonymity. It would take an obsessive and well-informed fan indeed to spot his face in the crowd, and I only did so because I'd been speaking to him a couple of weeks before, and had Googled his image). No one asked him to sign anything. No one snooped on our conversation. No one who heard me say "You're Hardy Fox, aren't you?" turned to observe us, as if they'd heard a name they had recognized, even though everyone around us had paid to get in there and was to some extent a fan. No, no one paid us any mind at all. I could have been talking to Wayne McCarthy (a Facebook friend who I run into from time to time at the Rickshaw; he's no more famous than I am, as far as I know). 

Anyhow, Hardy seemed affable, gentle, smart, grounded and relaxed, without a trace of "rockstar ego" or whatnot. I genuinely liked him, based on our interview and this brief personal encounter, and liked that a man so seemingly normal could still contain such a phenomenal amount of weirdness within, and channel it into his art. (It added a whole other level of fascination and admiration to read in obits that he had a husband, who - who knows? - might have been the man he was with that night; but I don't even begin to know how to write about that; Googling "Queering the Residents" nets only articles on LGBTQ+ housing). 

Talking Light tour at the Rickshaw 2011, photo by bev davies; is that Hardy on the left? (Not to be reused without permission)

Then I interviewed Homer Flynn, back in 2016, when the band played the Rio on the Shadowland tour. Hardy was still alive, at that point, I believe, but very ill, and had ceased to perform. As of the days of Theory of Obscurity, Flynn is described as the "secretary" or, uh, the "Captain Doc" of Cryptic; he is also sometimes described as the band's manager; and publicly known to be their graphic designer - the man responsible for that amazing Dick-Clark-as-Hitler cover previously mentioned. As far as I know, he has not been officially and publicly identified in any other role in regard to the band, but, again, he does tour with them. I agot to speak with him after that show, at somewhat greater length than I had with Hardy, and he also seemed a surprisingly relaxed, no-nonsense fellow, a very ordinary man, really, considering his association with one of the strangest, most outlandishly creative bands in American musical history. As with Hardy, you would not think anything if you looked over and saw him at the restaurant we went to, after the show (Dosa King on Kingsway; after his traumatic attempts to find food in the city by walking around the neighbourhood of the Rickshaw, he was game to be brought to a restaurant by a helpful journo). 

Homer Flynn by yours truly, not to be reused without permission

Much of that conversation will remain unreported by me - you kind of want to play by the Residents' rules - but besides his confirming that Hardy had been onstage at the Rickshaw, and not being able to explain my surprise encounter with Hardy at front of venue, Homer did mention another person of musical association with the band: Eric Drew Feldman, whose musical history includes playing with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Pere Ubu, Snakefinger, and Black Francis. (The Residents Wiki article on him goes into more detail about his career).

Eric Drew Feldman, maybe? Photo by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission; Residents at the Rio, 2016

I do not know what the rules are about outing Eric Drew Feldman as having replaced Fox in the Residents, but Wikipedia pretty much goes there, and Bubba Hodges, the person (or possibly AI) from Cryptic who responded to a recent email, when asked if Feldman can be named as being involved with the Residents, says that indeed, "Eric is involved, primarily as The Residents' producer and architect of their recorded sound."

I do not know if Eric is in the touring band this time around, but, uh, it seems at least possible, though with a tour as postponed and reconfigured as this, who knows? You won't be able to recognize him onstage, anyway! 

Randy of the Residents, 2016. Photo by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

I had a couple of other quick questions of Bubba, who identifies as "the Cryptic version of ChatGBT, struggling to find my own identity in a vast sea of misinformation." (The B in ChatGBT may or may not be a typo, as there is also a Chat GBT, in addition to the more famous ChatGPT. Nothing, it seems, is simple when it comes to Cryptic). For example, I asked, with this twice-postponed show, if the set list had evolved much since the original Dog Stab tour - cancelled by COVID - was conceived?

Bubba: The show has evolved quite a bit. It started primarily as a promotional vehicle for the Metal, Meat & Bone album which was new at the time. The entire album was to be played in that version with added selections from Duck Stab, mainly for the fans. When that one was cancelled, it evolved toward the 50TH anniversary with less MM&B, more Duck Stab and even a Third R'nR encore. That tour was cancelled except for three California shows in 2021. The next version - the one you will see in Vancouver - has retained a handful of both MM&B plus some Duck Stab songs and added quite a few "classics" to make it an authentic 50TH Anniversary show.

For those who missed it, the Metal, Meat & Bone album contains both demos and modern reworkings of what, in their original form, present as somewhat rude, harsh blues songs allegedly recorded by a figure identified as Dyin' Dog, a forgotten Louisiana bluesman who sounds very much like the Residents' vocalist at times, albeit in a rough, Tom-Waits-y growl not generally heard on Residents albums, like the singer had been gargling with razorblades and tequila. There is enough musical complexity to some of those raw demos to make one wonder if perhaps even the alleged timeframe of their recording - the early 1970's - might be as false as the other circumstances reported by the band (the Residents are not, after all, above what Hardy called "a lot of lying." The truth is out there, no doubt, but when it is surrounded by so much falsity, you won't trust it when you see it). Granted the allegedly contemporary reworkings are more sophisticated, musically, and have their own artful appeal, though they lack the shockingly rough charm of the so-called "early" versions (though I'd in fact be delighted to discover that the timeframe between versions was a matter of weeks, not decades). The whole idea of the Residents taking on the blues is pretty appealing, too. It works pretty damn well.

There are other surprises. The video for "Die Die Die" gets a bit more directly topical than one expects of the Residents, with COVID viruses and the face of Donald Trump appearing, all singing (with help from Black Francis) that they want you to die. There's plenty of other violent imagery in the lyrics on the album, as well as sexual double-entendres. Take, for example, "Bury My Bone." (The rock video for the reworked version has honest-to-Jeezus tits in it (there are quite possibly tits in other Residents videos, too, but not that I've seen myself). The Residents are not really ever safe for work, unless you really trust your coworkers or have tenure or something, but this video, shared with a co-worker, could probably get you fired, which, say, would probably not happen with "Moisture." People would just look at you funny, for that one.

Anyhoo... seeing that the costumes have changed since the twice-cancelled Dog Stab shows here - wise, considering the original costumes (above) are a little less inviting than the ones at the top of the page - I asked Bubba if Homer designed them.

Bubba: The masks are British and were found online - perhaps at Etsy. The costumes were designed by Homer.

And since I had no idea what else to ask, not knowing if Bubba would even be able to engage me, I threw a random catch-all at him for the hell of it: "Any comments I can use are welcome. Seen any good movies lately?"

Bubba may or may not be an AI, but he sure did sound like Alexa in how he - they? it? - framed his answer: "I hear that RRR (Netflix) is a terrific movie. While I haven't seen it personally, several of THEM have seen and raved about it." Good to know! 

The Singing Resident n 2018, Bob Hanham photo, not to be reused, etc. I missed this show! 

A final note of some relevance, re: movies, for those who have not heard, the showtimes for the night at the Hollywood have changed, to accommodate the screening of a feature film directed and written by Homer Flynn, Triple Trouble, presumably so entitled because this is the Residents' third attempt to conduct this tour (but I don't really know). Doors will be at 5pm, and the evening will commence at 5:45. The actual concert begins at 7:25, apparently. I have done nothing to prepare myself for the experience of watching the film, have not seen it, have not even read that description I linked, so I will not describe it... because why do I want to know what I'm in for? I hereby license Homer, the people of Cryptic, and the Residents themselves, whoever they might be, to surprise the hell out of me. 

2. The Residents: Bev Davies' story, plus Snakefinger! 

From the Residents 2011 show at the Rickshaw, by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Vancouver cultural treasure Bev Davies has photographed the Residents, Captain Beefheart (see here), and Snakefinger (a sometimes Residents-collaborator who toured through town with the aforesaid Mr. Feldman back in 1982). Earlier this week, she told me a story involving a musician named Paul Young, who is NOT the Paul Young of this horrifyingly lachrymose earworm (exposed to it, I feel compelled to revise the lyrics, changing "me" to "cheese," to make the experience more tolerable). This other Paul, Bev explained, was nicknamed "Eazy Teeth" by Beefheart because he was always smiling. (Bev points out that there is a record by Captain Beefheart called "Eazy Teeth," but the only thing I can find on Youtube is not by Beefheart - it sounds more like the Residents, in fact, but is not them, either). 

Drawing by Don Van Vliet of "Eazy Teeth," provided by bev davies

Bev's story:

Paul Young, who is a friend of mine - or was a friend of mine; I haven't seen him in years. He used to be in the entourage for Captain Beefheart. And Paul told me a story about the Residents; when the Residents lived in San Francisco, there was a warehouse district in the neighbourhood where their studio was. Everyone knew they were there. And Paul said that the Residents were always a bit apprehensive of Devo, and felt that Devo were going to steal their thunder if they weren't very careful about it. They felt a competition between Devo and themselves, that they hadn't initiated, but maybe Devo had initiated. It was this edgy thing that happened. 

Sometimes Residents-collaborator and Ralph Records bandmate Snakefinger by bev davies, not to be reused without permission. April 10, 1982 at " In Concert" 315 Carrall Street

Bev, continued: So some people got together that were friends of the Residents, but not the Residents themselves, and postered the neighbourhood right around where the studio was. And the posters were of Devo with giant heads, with big eyes on their shoulders. The Residents hadn't released the record yet, the record where they had the eyeballs, what is that?

Allan: Maybe Eskimo?

Bev, continued: But they were Devo posters that had the eyeball, and the Residents came out and they went, "Oh my god, they stole our idea!" And they were hysterical about it. But it was just a joke. Devo had no idea, had nothing to do it.

Allan: That might be in the film!

Bev: It might be!

Allan: How did you know Paul?

Bev: Just met him here probably at the Railway when he came to town with Beefheart. And when Beefheart came here, he stayed at a hotel in the West End, on Burrard, there, on the west side of the street. And when I went to photograph him, Paul went, "I have to show you something, but you cannot tell anyone." And he took me to the top floor of the hotel, which was all burnt out. And he said, "Beefheart just is terrified of fire, and would not stay at this hotel if he knew the top floor was burnt. Don't tell him! Don't tell him..."

Eric Drew Feldman with Snakefinger in Vancouver, 1982, by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Allan: Apparently Captain Beefheart hated the Residents. This is something I've talked to the Residents about. 

Bev: That history I don't know, other than, that's a good story. 

Allan: Do you have any history with the Residents? A first moment discovering them?

Bev: No, but Snakefinger was on the same record label, Ralph Records, and I have that t-shirt, "Buy or Die." That's where I probably met Paul first, was at Snakefinger. I saw him a few times. Really liked him! And I have the Snakefinger t-shirt with the finger and the snake coming out of it...

Snakefinger in Vancouver, 1982, by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

3. The Residents by uber-fan Erik Iversen

All photos in this section are copyright by Erik Iversen (except the Snakefinger gig poster) and not to be re-used without permission.

Photographer Erik Iversen is a "long time fan" of the Residents, a man much deeper down the Residents rabbithole than I, who first saw them over 20 years ago at the Commodore on the Icky Flix tour. He'll be in attendance on Saturday as well, but less to shoot than to focus on the music and performance, he tells me. During a brief interaction on Facebook, however, he mostly communicated his fandom through images - which is possibly wise when trying to talk about the Residents.

Here are a couple of snaps that Erik shot that night the Commodore - a photograph of photographs. As you see, Erik got to see an eyeball mask (something we did not get to see here in 2011 or 2016). He further explains that "Molly Harvey is the singer in the pink wig;" she apparently no longer tours with the band, but plays with them when they come through Georgia. You can also see some really striking shots taken by Eric on the Concert Addicts website from that Rio show of 2016.

Erik's first encounter with the Residents was on the Vancouver cable access show Nite Dreems, "when John H. Tanner showed videos for 'Moisture' and 'Hello Skinny.' That's how I also first heard Snakefinger's 'Man In the Black Sedan' and was instantly hooked. I love the early music, but their recent albums are excellent as well."  (Doug Smith - of "Hell is a Microwave" fame - also reports early exposure to the Residents on Night Dreems - "Hello Skinny" and "Constantinople," in particular.  Meanwhile, I was probably seeing these on a different cable access show, Soundproof, out in the suburbs, where I also first heard Snakefinger's "I Gave Myself to You," which you could buy on 7" at Collectors' RPM. The earliest Residents video I can recall from those days is "Simple Song," but there were a few that played fairly often back then, so who knows?). 

Erik still has his first Residents LP, which he got some 45 years ago; it was also my first Residents' LP, as previously mentioned. Erik apparently has also had The Commercial Album (and the single below) since his high school days. And he saw Snakefinger at the Luv-a-Fair, at a later show than Bev was at, adding - knowing that I am a NO FUN fan - NO FUN opened that night.

Except they didn't. Responding to a query for Snakefinger memories, David M. of NO FUN - who did see the Residents with me in 2016, who tells me he has "been playing 'Birthday Boy' from Duck Stab at midnight on my birthday every year since I bought the E.P. (with t-shirt) at Black Swan Records in 1978," and who is known to occasionally cover "Santa Dog" during his Christmas shows (and who gave me a CD of his interpretations of that song to pass on to Cryptic) - responded via text that, "Once again I see that it is being suggested we opened for Snakefinger. Which we did not. No one ever asked us to play with Snakefinger, and our name was never on a Snakefinger poster, so I'm not sure where the persistent rumour came from, other than that Black Swan was the one record store to carry a wide range of Residents/ Snakefinger/ Ralph Records product thanks to my friend Tim [Keenliside, though I cannot confirm the spelling; I know him from avant-garde gigs around town] who ran their rock/ punk/ new wave section. He was the guy bringing in all the non-jazz stuff, and his tastes ventured further than the au courant punk and new wave stuff that was teaching kids how to dress in those days. Because of Tim, our second EP, "NO FUN at the Disco," was exclusively available at Black Swan (we provided them with a large Werewolf record rack for both EPs that they had on the counter). So in 1979, people would probably have associated Residents and us with Black Swan, and a lot of people remember the Snakefinger performance in Vancouver at that time."

Incidentally, apparently Kent Lindsay of NO FUN's new label Atomic Werewolf has a "short musical message from Hardy Fox" inserted into a bonus track - "boner track," in NO FUN speak - on an album by his band New Heads (but that's a link to the Spotify page; he mentions Bandcamp, but I can't find the New Heads page there...). 

And Doug Smith, who was at the Snakefinger show in question, says it was "insane," adding that he "always thought it was crazy that [Snakefinger] was in a Pub Rock band with Martin Stone and Pete Thomas! Ace musicianship or what!" 

4. Graham Peat (best known for his association with Videomatica)

Graham Peat is another notable Vancouverite with a history with the Residents, who will be present at the Hollywood Theatre on Saturday. He tells the history thus:

In Videomatica's early days we imported music videos taped in San Francisco like the Cramps, Throbbing Gristle, Bauhaus, Dead Kennedys and the Damned.

But the most disturbing and compelling videos to me were from Ralph Records' The Residents. They were sinister, funny and so cinematic. Every video was an elaborate production that you just couldn't forget.

How can I shake off "Hello Skinny," "Songs for Swinging Larvae" or "Third Reich 'n Roll"? And then there was the mystery. The group was so perfectly impenetrable then. Astounding that they are still around 50 years later.

The Residents in Vancouver, 2018, by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

5. Jordan of Nomeanswhatever: the Residents by PowerPoint

I do not remember Jordan's real name. I know him from a long-since mothballed Nomeansno discussion forum where we both used to post under aliases. We are also now Facebook friends, and we chatted at that Invasives/ Rong/ Pet Blessings show I wrote about a few months ago. I think in each instance he has used a different name; this also seems like something the Residents might approve of. They would probably also enjoy knowing that Jordan "did a PowerPoint presentation about them for my grade 11 media arts class. Been a big fan since I was about 13 or 14, though I'm not too into a whole lot of their stuff after Mark of the Mole."

Another favourite, that was the second Residents album I bought, possibly from Ty, as well, but I found it too weird at the time (I find it deeply fascinating now). Apparently it was recorded close to the time of a rupture between factions in the band, and seems in fact a metaphor for it, telling a veiled tale about the tension between those members of the band who wished to remain "underground," as it were, "working down below," and those who wished to move "up" in the world, with all that implies - success, fame, money, and so forth. The liner notes for the Mole Trilogy in those fancy hardback CD reissues that came out a few years ago are uncharacteristically informative in this regard, and are a must-read for Residents fans (as I recall, the notes to Tunes of Two Cities are particularly revealing). 

Jordan continues:

Here's a little more context to that Residents anecdote... I first got into the Residents when I was around 13 I think. My two favourite bands at the time were NoMeansNo and Primus, both of whom had each covered the Residents, so I knew I had to check them out. My brother ended up special ordering The Third Reich 'n Roll from our (terrible) mall CD store in Nelson, BC and the first time I listened to it I wasn't sure if I liked it exactly, but I definitely thought it was compelling (and certainly the most jarring, bizarre music I'd ever heard at that point). I spent some time on the library computer reading more about them (my family didn't have internet while I lived at home) and was really fascinated by their concepts and mythology. 

A few months later I got The Commercial Album which I instantly loved, and I started trying to acquire everything from them I could get. In my grade 11 media arts class we were tasked with designing a PowerPoint presentation to give to the class. I can't remember what the parameters were regarding the topic we could choose but whatever it was I was able to shoehorn the Residents into it. I gave a presentation highlighting their career at that point - releases, tours, artwork, and innovation in the mediums of music video and CD ROM, as well as fan theories about their identities. My presentation was the first given and my teacher was actually quite impressed and told me that I'd set the bar very high and that I had piqued his curiosity about the group. He had me launch the splash page again at the end so he could listen to the first 30 seconds of "Constantinople" again, now that he had just learned about the group. 

One other kinda funny side note - my dad was also familiar with the Residents, though he was never the major fan that I was. He told me that at one point many years prior he owned a dub of a Ralph Records VHS compilation. One night when he and my uncle were watching some low budget horror movie that they had rented, they got the idea (probably while stoned) to hook up another VCR so that they could splice in a brief clip from the video for "Simple Song," of The Residents dancing around the rotating pig. He insisted it looked seamless. I wonder if the video store ever found out.

The Residents in Vancouver, 2018, by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

That's all I've been able to amass in the time allotted. Tony Balony of the Rubes, the Real McKenzies, and some incarnations of Rude Norton, as I recall, also is a big Residents fan, but didn't really have a story - save that he "was a big fan in the early 80's. I met Penn Jillette" - who toured with the Residents for a time - "and he was wearing a Residents shirt with a top-hat eyeball." 

Still, as of this writing, there are still tickets left for Saturday's show at the Hollywood. There are not many opportunities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a band so storied and significant. Even if you don't know what to make of the Residents - even if you figure they are just "weird for weird's sake," as another friend of mine observed - the experience of seeing them live is singular, spectacular, and very, very entertaining. Like the guy says - 

Bev's Buy or Die t-shirt, art by Gary Panter, photo by bev davies

See here for more.