The Residents

Mod Club, Toronto ON, April 19

Photo: Lindsay Duncan

BY Nilan PereraPublished Apr 20, 2018

The Residents wasted no time bringing their dadaist menace to the Mod Club on Thursday night. From the moment the four members walked on to a fairly minimal stage setup of keyboards, guitar, electronic drums and a spherical projection screen, their costumes immediately erased all identification with humanity.
The Resident Singer (Tyrone) suited up in a black-and-white cow motif completed by a snouted visage sprouting horns. The rest of the band were decked out in traditional Resident tuxedos in a checkered white and green pattern, but with masks of long beaked birds in bowler hats.
The effect was almost a throwback to the visions of hell painted by 16th century painter Pieter Bruegel. But the darkness did not end with the costumes.
The Residents chose to present a song-based concert, a departure from their more theme-based shows, and also incorporated four of their equally potent and disturbing "dream" videos. It was a powerful mix where Resident Guitarist (Eekie) harmonised and shredded like a weird combination of Steve Vai and Fred Frith, and Resident Keys and Resident Percussion (Eekie2 and CaCha) droned and beat like some medieval Roman Catholic processional.
The music itself featured songs from the Ghost of Hope release, as well as earlier material; the tour itself is a continuation of their 2017 "Between Dreams" tour.
The show contained everything from pure musical theatre/opera jammed through oddly twisted rock'n'roll that had stripped down and played by a demented Bavarian marching band. But that's not all — Resident Singer roared with an intensity that would put a lot of death metal/grindcore lungs to shame.
It was also quite apparent that they had paid a lot of attention to their lighting. The Mod Club itself has a pretty good lighting grid, and the Residents compensated for the minimal set design with some very effective lighting design. Given the more extensive sets they employed in their earlier work, this performance really brought forward their attention to detail (and creativity) in continuing to present a complete experience without the sets.
It was a classic Resident art brut/outsider performance: slamming, potent, extremely well-constructed and true to the twisted underbelly of America.

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