The Residents perform at the 9:30 Club on Friday, April 29, 2016. (Photo by Crystal Dunn – http://www.ladyvile.com)
Prior to their show at the 9:30 Club Friday night, I have previously seen The Residents perform live on only one other occasion. This was at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium back in 1990, and it was for The King and Eye Tour.
I have been a longtime if sporadically engaged fan since the 1980s, having discovered the group through my interest of the Swiss band Yello. The Residents’ record label, Ralph Records, was the source of a lot of wonderfully strange music back in the early 1980s. In addition to the first two Yello LPs, their roster also included releases by Renaldo and the Loaf, Snakefinger, and Tuxedomoon.
The catalog insert inside of my copy of the “Claro Que Si” LP led me straight to Residents fandom. This was a period of near-fanatic record collecting for me, accompanied by some of the most memorable live performance that I have witnessed. It was in that same period of time that Lisner also hosted Laurie Anderson, The The, and an amazingly rare performance by David Sylvian. These were the kind of shows and the kind of creatively unbounded music I saw myself pursuing as I grew with the music scene — intricate, thought-provoking, cinematic, and ambitious. Seeing The Residents at the 9:30 Club this past weekend, a seated show that offered a cerebral experience, helped me reminisce about the heyday of “new music,” prior to grunge and hip hop’s reset of popular sensibility to digestible rock and roll idolatry.