Love And Rockets “all Aboard”

Love and Rockets

Time goes by (So slow when you start to live)

In my interview with David J and his current project “Night Crickets” he told me the story of them being in the studio for the album “Express” and they were already planning on the 3rd album. David was at an all night party with Pat Fish from “The Jazz Butcher”, having smoked a spliff as the dawn was breaking (1985) and they were listening to the first album by “Violent Femmes” and David knew that was going to steer the next album of Love and Rockets. That was how we got the epic coming of age album in my life called “Earth + Sun + Moon”. I had heard a couple of their songs but the night I sat down with the CD of “Earth + Sun + Moon”, Love and Rockets managed to mosey into my top 5 and park it, staying roughly at number 3 (with all their family in tow) since 1988. I even have it written in my will that I want my ashes pressed into a vinyl record of “Earth + Sun + Moon”. A psychedelic folk rock album filled with eastern philosophy.

I first saw them perform in July 1989 at the Park West Amphitheater in Park West Utah, and I got a few words with them that afternoon. I have met them on and off over the last 30 plus years, as they are all fantastic musicians and songwriters. They filled the side of a mountain, and told us at the end of the night that we were the nicest crowd they have played for yet on the tour (There is a bootleg recording of Kevin saying that to us).

I saw them at a festival in Denver in 1996 at Fiddlers Green, by then I was no stranger to driving long distance road trips to see concerts, especially someone as beloved as Love and Rockets.

When I saw the announcement of them rolling through Salt Lake, in their first time here since 1996, and playing a decent sized outdoor venue, I was counting the minutes (that dragged) for months. Something I never expected to ever experience again was Love and Rockets live.

There was so much chatter and excitement in Salt Lake over this show and friends from all over the state of Utah were rolling in for this monumental event.

The venue was to no one’s surprise packed, to even more surprise, a sort of absence of black clothing, and it was a “Class Reunion” of some sorts, of all the old school punk/goth scene folks. Basically everyone who went to see them in 1989 was here that night, and it was great to see everyone again.

The opening act was “Soriah”, a bloke in First American shaman clothing, face paint to match, with a drummer. He began his set by singing a couple verses of “Proud Mary” by Ike n Tina Turner, giving a humble respectful tribute to the queen of Rock & Roll who had passed into the beyond that day. He then blessed everyone with his feathered scepter in the calmest softest voice, it was so soft you could barely hear him as he spoke. He then began his throat singing, chant like. There is no way to describe this guy accurately, only that his music takes you to places in the far reaches of the space time continuum. He had performed and recorded with Peter Murphy, so no serious effort to connect the dots as to how he ended up performing for us that night. All I can say is that when he pulled out his Aztec Death Whistle and as he blew through it, the spirits came out to haunt all of us, and scare the hell out of everyone there. This guy is absolutely amazing, and worth whatever you would pay to see him live. He takes you to the metaphysical space that you would have to be to really enjoy the Love and Rockets catalog. Just look him up, it is an amazing performance.

After a quick shift, the intro tape “Angels and Devils” began to play, and we all knew what was coming. Kevin Haskins took his seat and started playing in sync with the hollow drums pounding away, David J came into the stage with his bass strapped on ready to play, and Daniel Ash came on the opposite side of the stage, the band was complete. Everyone wearing glam sunglasses, and ready to go. They opened with the unexpected “I Feel Speed”, to an overly excited crowd, we didn’t really mind that they picked that one, it just was out of place. As the punters cheered louder than the band was playing, at that moment, everyone there, band and fan knew they were in the right place. “No Big Deal” came right after with no words in between.

Daniel Ash was wearing his hair in typical Daniel fashion and a very glam mirror panel jacket and alligator shoes, David J was wearing a crimson velour leisure suit, with Buddhist prayer beads around his neck and gold loafers. There was nothing Goth about their appearance this evening, it was a mix of the image of Love and Rockets being a glam band with eastern religious influences, only Love and Rockets could be so adorned and pull off being the coolest band in the world.

Daniel Ash can still pull it off as the coolest glam star

David J said “All aboard” and there was a train whistle, and they went into “Kundalini Express” playing as tight as ever. The band was playing on top of the sound from Kevin’s High Hat cymbals sounding like they were “hissing” the steam out from an old train engine. Nothing in the world is as cool as a band playing on top of the steam engine sound coming from the high hats, NOTHING EVER.

With not even a “Thank You” Daniel started cranking out C, F#, G, D, F#, and churned out “Dog End Of A Day Gone Bye”, a long song, hypnotic as far as the guitar and base lines, just repeated a couple measures. The real wonder of this song is the imagery they give you, walking through all kinds of religious dogmas and in the end making sure to tell you “Don’t let the smoke get in your eyes”. Don’t be deceived, at least not for long. This is a classic that still sounds current, in content (more current now than ever actually) and composition.

A few songs later, David J finally said something, poetic, and insightful, if we were still bearing the burden of the Aztec Death Whistle, and those spirits Soriah called forth, he simply said “The word that would best describe this feeling, would be “Haunted””, and we got another trance inducing “Haunted When The Minutes Drag”. By the time we got to “Haunted by your soul, Haunted Your hair….” we were all pretty in a trance just swinging around like we were caught in the sway of the twirling dervish. I don’t know how long they played that song, but it felt like a long time, but that was also the point of the song.

As the evening moved on we all realized these guys had only 2 real charting hits, but everything they played was straight of the fan’s songbook. “No New Tale To Tell” seemed like it was only 25 seconds long, and didn’t seem to last long enough for all the memories I had from this song. It was fantastic, but, I wish it went on for a while longer, like another 9 minutes or so.

They played their biggest hit, because they had to “So Alive” which, was ok this time around, it was boring when I first heard them do it in 89, so I guess the song improved with age.

We got some gems from the later albums “Deep Deep Down”, “My Evil Twin”. This was the part of the set where I was hoping to hear the total gem from the self titled album, “Rock and Roll Babylon”, it would have fit perfectly here, but alas, the only one we didn’t get that I was hoping for.

“The Light” was the only piece that didn’t feel like they were into it. Daniel Ash said in an interview that he gets bored with playing Love and Rockets music, and it took a few measures for this one to get going. It ended well.

A staple of all live performances, we got “Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)”. That song is a must for every live gig, and is the one where everyone cuts loose. At previous gigs David’s mic stand fell down and he was laying on his back singing “BEAUTY, BEAUTY, BEAUTIFUL”, this time around he was at the edge of the stage in everyone’s face thumping out the bassline, while Daniel was doing the same on the other side of the stage.

Beauty Beauty Beauty Beautiful

They left the stage for a few minutes, and back for the encore, they started of that segment with “Holiday on the moon” then “Love Me” and then “Ball of Confusion” the Temptations cover, which was just awesome live. The history for that song is that they usually open the set with that one, but the first show they played in 89, it was absent from the set list. They tore through it with strobe lights flashing on each drum beat, everyone was pleased with this one.

They closed with “All in My Mind”, without having said anything the entire evening, just playing songs, it was this moment that we could all say with clarity, that Daniel Ash and David J have managed to maintain their voices. David J was singing very smooth, his token half David Gilmore half Roger Waters voice, sounded just as good now as he did when we first played their records. Daniel was tight and smooth with his voice, also as genuine as ever.

All in all, Love and Rockets taking the road, 30 years after their “biggest hit” days, might have seemed risky, but a band like this, having been continually playing in other bands and still writing and producing music, gives them an edge that we all were able to hear. They are sharp and as tight as ever, and it wasn’t a “nostalgic” moment, they just put on a show that you would want to go to if they came through once a year, very few bands can do that, but Love and Rockets did, and still do.

Check out the upcoming dates.

June 6, 2023 Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

June 9, 2023 Kings Theater, Brooklyn, NY

Jun 15, 2023 The Factory Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX

June 19-20, 2023, The Theater at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

M83 “Fantasy” tour, yeah, it kind of was.

Event: M83 “The Fantasy Tour”

Date: May 6, 2023 (SOLD OUT)

Venue: The Ogden Amphitheater, Ogden Twilight series concerts.

City: Ogden, Utah

In a world where we are all so connected by technology, sometimes you have to just “Be there” to connect. The French Electronic rock band “M83” will do just that. They are an atmospheric “Dream-Pop” band, that covers so many genres of sound, riding somewhere between New Order and Tangerine Dream, whilst venturing into Vangelis spacescape territory. You have heard plenty of their work for the better part of 20 years in some of the strangest films, “Oblivion”, “The Gambler”, a perfume commercial, and even the zombie comedy film “Warm Bodies”. Like the friendships in the song “Temptation” by New Order, you have no place for them in your life, their music is never invited, but always welcome.

Utah is a “High Desert” mountainous territory, that is usually dry. May 6th was a very cold, and rainy day in Ogden, sitting at 5000 feet, with snow still coming down just 2 miles away. That set the atmosphere for M83 to give deliver in an almost torrential downpour, and honestly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Sitting in the 4th row was the supporting act, Jeremiah Chiu, just hanging out with friends. He then just walked onto the stage and started playing his analog synthesizer. It was really cool to see, in a “Wendy and Walter Carlos” kind of way. As he played, he switched out cables and turned knobs to make his music, while delivering a “pre” Depeche Mode type synth sound, reminiscent of Kraftwerk, and Yello. He did a Kraftwerk cover, and didn’t sing a word, but reminded us all of the early 80s video games.

The stage had a “Stranger Things” motif for a very “Sci-Fi” feel, but we were still unsure what we were going to experience. The intro piece for any show is incredibly important, whether it’s an atmospheric intro song by another band, an audio clip, or a speech, the mindset and mood you need to be in are so important for the rest of the show. For so many bands, the performance begins before the set, often before the band even takes the stage.

The band came to the stage while Kaela Sinclair in a dress with the funkiest clash of colors began playing a synth line to “Water Deep” that the rest of the band plugged in and started playing on top of as an intro with Anthony Gonzales on vocals, he managed to keep the focus not just on himself, but to blend in with the rest of the band. The rain was pouring down on the punters, with beautiful seascape background lights until everyone was in position with their instruments. Suddenly there were “Red Alert” lights flashing, showing the entire band onstage, and the drums kicked in, synced with the lights, we were now into “Oceans Niagara”, the fog and the mist from the rain added to the ambiance coming from the stage. The band were in hoodies and it was so cold you could see their breath in the air. The lights illuminate the stage and at the same time leave only the silhouette of the musicians.

Kaela Sinclair taking lead on synth

They went from atmospheric to danceable as they rolled into “Amnesia”, a very joyful sounding tune you would have found easily in the new wave clubs of the 80s, mixed with synth and bass lines of Ultravox and a Flock of Seagulls. This is just “Feel good” music with a great atmosphere.

Kaela Sinclair moved over to a sit-down piano, and they went into “Us and The Rest”, another dreamy opus with acoustic guitars and the light show slowed down to keep everyone just swaying in the rain. “Run Into Flowers” had a switch out of instruments, violin instead of guitar, and the light show animated on the screens behind them looked like some of the monsters on “Stranger Things”.

The Visage of the "Fantasy"

The Light show for “Gone” was reminiscent of the alien ships landing in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, so many times through the show, I almost forget that you have a band there to watch, as you are paying more attention to the lights and the screens. By this time we were unsure if that was atmosphere fog, or just from the rain. It was strange to see it this way because the backdrop looked like a very bright sun obscured by the heat shifting off the ground. We could see the effects, but still experience something so cold at the same time.

There was a vocal like “chanting” as the new age “Kenny G” sax kicked into a disco riff while they played the title track from the new album “Fantasy”, with the visuals of the face of a monster in luminescence on the screen. A scary-looking space alien, to disco music, yeah, that’s what we came here for tonight.

They played through “Lara” with a lot of saxes, “Don’t Save Us From The Flames” and then “NOISE” until they got to the one song that made me fall in love with their music “Wait”. It was a dreamy opus, that you just had to let it take you where it wanted to. It reminded you of the sound of water dripping down a deep shaft before it splashed at the bottom, and how that sound travels. They sang like you were at sea, and underneath them were the sounds of great whales carrying the music. Yeah, it was all just like that. “No Time” was the only word you could discern from the rest of the song, and that was all you needed to know. M83’s music is heavily focused on moving feelings around inside of you, more than you trying to listen to the words.

Kaela Sinclair was the only band member in the lights while she sang “Solitude”, the rest of the band was barely lit while they took us through this dreamy Pink Floyd-esque experience. This was just a science fiction soundtrack, while the violin played, the drums began to pound and I was feeling it shake my entire frame. “Teen Angst” along with “We Own The Sky” lead us to a dancy synthesizer tune straight out of the dreamy ambient numbers we had just been through. It was almost like CHVRCHES on ambient speed, it was absolutely wonderful to be seeing and hearing this carnival of light and sound.

After a high-intensity dream, M83 gave us “Midnight City” with all the power you would expect. Even the band was dancing, almost pogo-stick dancing, these guys are very energetic on stage. While the rest of us were in the cold, the drummer was stripped down to only his shorts, and Anthony the singer was out getting everyone in the audience to clap along with him, while steam was rising off the drummer. (It was a cold night). Everyone was disco dancing to “Mirror”, and since it was sold out, and standing room only, one of the guitarists took off his monitor pack and went crowd surfing knowing there were plenty of people to pass him around. Anthony G sat down on the edge of the stage and sang to everyone at eye level in the pit. If you think they would be mellow, and just play their instruments, you would be so surprised at how animated and interactive they are with the punters. The visuals were a mix of the original “Bubblicious” gum commercials from the 70s, with early 80s video game graphics, with the light show meant to distract you from even noticing the band on the stage playing the music.

They closed out with “Outro” and a blinding crescendo of blue lights, and at full volume. It was so loud, my body was shaking, and my earplugs were useless, it was as loud and as perfectly in tune as if it was a SWANS concert.

With a stage setup looking like it was from some of our favorite science fiction films growing, up and the music taking us to exactly those places and beyond, M83 is a must see performance. Even better if it is a cold rainy night.

Ministry and Gary Numan tear it up, lay it down, and deliver an amazing set, with Front Line Assembly in Tow.

Event: Ministry, Gary Numan, (equal time)
Supporting act: Front Line Assembly
Date: April 21, 2023
Venue: The Union Event Center
City: Salt Lake City, Utah

So, as long as any of us can remember, we all got into Ministry maybe a song or two, but REALLY got into them in 1989-1990. WHY? Well, that was when Ministry had their breakthrough album “The Mind Is a Terrible Thin To Taste”. The shows on that tour were legendary, and have since solidified Ministry as a MUST-SEE for all industrial music fans.

Before we all fell in love with Ministry, we were already devout fans of the new wave synth god Gary Numan, not just for his epic song “Cars” but that he had just been making great music since the late 70s, and we all bought his albums just because, well, we knew there was so much more to this guy than “Cars” and we were right.

So, imagine all of our delight to catch both of these bands who have been making outstanding music for 40 years, on the same stage. This tour has been something rather sensational, or at least this night was one of those more incredible nights.

Opening the night (at barely 6:45 pm) was Vancouver Canada’s Front Line Assembly, veterans in their own right, they are a fantastic way to start the evening off. They were tight, and very interactive with the audience. The guitarist had “SALT LAKE CITY” painted on his instrument, and he was playing it, tight up to his chest, almost vertically at times. The main drummer was standing at a very scaled-down drum kit, and was wearing a masque, that, well, could have been worn for an apocalyptic look effect, or just a covid precaution, either way, it was badass. They opened with “Angriff” and you just felt the real guitar lines pounding through the PA system as the guitarist was whipping his white dreads around, almost looking like that scene in Jedi when Luke took off Darth Vader’s helmet.

I caught the first 3 songs in the pit, and as I was leaving, they enlightened us all to the point that we were going to be having 80s new wave hits on the menu. They did this by playing a cover of Falco’s 85 hit “ROCK ME AMADEUS”. I will be honest, I was never a huge fan of that song, I love Falco’s other work, I lived in Germany for several years, and he is revered as a musical God to the Germans. However, this evening, and the way Front Line Assembly delivered it, IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. The lead singer also played drums off the original drummer, just for some great effects.

Front Line Assembly set the mood for the rest of the night, and the only complaint I had about their set was its brevity, really we all could have easily enjoyed four or five more from them. Tight, intense, and fun, but only 7 songs, closed out with “Mindphaser”.

As the switch out for Gary Numan was happening on stage, the venue was almost full, and the gaps in the crowd were getting smaller. Why? BECAUSE IT’S GARY NUMAN THAT’S WHY.
I have been shooting at this venue for years, and the only time I have ever seen it packed to the doors was for Echo & The Bunnymen last year. Now, well, I guess there was enough draw, cause you couldn’t fit a razorblade between the punters this night. The final count from the bouncers was just short of 4 thousand.

As the stage went dark again, there were plenty of strobes flashing and the band took the stage, again looking like a dystopian post-apocalyptic movie, but more like Krishna monks.

Gary Numan, doing what Gary Numan does best

They started with a throbbing humming keyboard line, straight out of the engine room of a large starship. Then the drumming commenced, the slow pounding of “Intruder” from the new album of the same name, while the band cranked up the atmosphere with their guitars and keyboards. Then the spotlight was on Gary as the stage lit up, and he began to take us through this set. He was dressed like he has been in the last several years, looking like a survivor of a space-age apocalypse with painted tribal red lines going down his face, almost like tiger claw marks. Only, cooler.
He gave us “Halo” and “Pure”, as we were expecting them for the evening. Gary Numan has put out so much music over the years, and the genres have all kind of mixed and clashed. Though these songs might have been written in the last 20 years, they sound as fresh and current in the direction Gary has wanted to go, a long way since the magnificent albums “Dance”, or “New Anger”, Gary seems to have found a sound that makes him very happy, and, thus, he manages to make us all very happy too.
He laid out the epic “My Jesus” from the album “Pure” and we still can’t believe it was released in 2001, and still has “It”.

I am amazed at the amount of energy he has on stage after going on 50 years, starting with the Tubeway Army back in the 1970s. Gary was swinging the mic stand around, playing different guitars for each song, jumping back to the keyboards to play, he was all over that stage, while his guitarists and bassist were just as animated. I got up close and can say that the man has not aged. He looks like he did when I first met him almost 30 years ago.
He gave us “CARS” and that was his new wave hit contribution to the evening, everyone was expecting it, but he could have played another 40 songs in its place and gotten no complaints. Gary is mechanical, and powerful and makes sure to deliver all he has.
With “The Chosen” and “My Name is Ruin”, especially live, you can see there is a totally different stage persona than say his “Blade Runner influenced” epic live album “The Skin Mechanic” from the “New Anger” tour. Gary Numan has so much to choose from for his live sets, and when he plays something from even the 70s, his electronic metal sound puts a fantastic new “edginess” to the music that always feels like it was released last month, and you are hearing it for the first time.

I have seen Gary Numan many times over the years, from Paris in 1998, to Boston in 2001, to the recent set of shows he has played here in Salt Lake. He knows that he will always sell out the venue in Salt Lake City, because of his rabid fan base here. Could I say this was the best performance that I have ever seen? No, is it the worst? No, I really can’t gauge them, they have all been at the same level of spectacular. (Though he insists that the Paris gig I saw really was not very good, I LOVED that night, and since I’m the one writing the review, I’m right). You will get the best live show Gary Numan has to offer if you saw him performing “Telekon” in 1981, or “Intruder” this week.


After seeing a band like this eleven times over 33 years, one can appreciate the fact that no matter what Al Jourgensen has come up with, he is still full of surprises.
I have come to expect insanely loud, fun, crazy industrial metal with great social commentary sucker punched in a vegan eggplant sandwich right between your eyes.

The Stage was adorned with the “industrial Grade Steel ” Metal Cross, lit up like one of those back alley way churches serving the less fortunate in a poor part of down town. It has kind of become the token image for Ministry shows the last few tours. It even has a pulpit for Al with several mics mounted to it. Yeah, after all it is “MINISTRY” . The band took the stage with AL coming in late making a fashionable entrance while they opened with “Alert Level”. Now, I have known Al’s work to be often loaded with sarcasm, and this evening was no exception. Maybe his being a general cynic, or skeptic, or just funny, but he was playing over the speech by the jaw-dropping idiot “GIVE ME MILLIONS OF DOLLARS” personality the “On Air” preacher Kenneth Copeland, you know the guy who says god wants him to have really expensive airplanes to preach the word? That guy. Well, Al managed to splice into his first couple of songs the Kenneth Copeland speeches where he declared by the word of god that “Covid Shall be Banished from God’s Earth”. I remembered watching that speech and thinking “What a freaking LUNATIC” and then here we are 2 years later, and Ministry has that same speech as the background track for the new album. That was enough reason to go to this show, the sheer wit behind it had me smiling through the song while I got photos.

Pieces from the same sound bytes were playing into song two, “Good Trouble” off the recent album “Moral Hygiene”, then they played “Disinformation”. Leaving the pit Al said “Hey everyone, we are going to do a cover of an Iggy Pop tune, called “Search and Destroy”. I yelled at Al “And Yesterday was Iggy’s Birthday even..” Al Smiled and said off the mic, “YEAH”. They played a cool version of the classic, I mean, we all LOVE IGGY.

I got up to the balcony and they played “Believe Me” which was bizarre because the background graphics were like a psychedelic trip trying to hypnotize ya. They gave us “Broken System” which had graphics of AR-15s and various political figures flashing up on the wall behind them. The token message, is that you don’t need to ask “What does he mean by this?”.
He said “This is the 2nd time we have ever played this one, and I’m sure you’ll like it” and they gave us the song “Goddamn White Trash”. Now, whatever you expect from Ministry in a song like this, you would be right. Flashing pics of the KKK, visuals of NAZI icons, and just general redneck culture, Ministry’s disdain for all things TRUMP were present in this song… and he was right, we did like it, a lot. During this part, a woman who had been in the pit with us taking pictures with her phone, and obviously part of the tour, walked onto the stage with an acoustic guitar and played in with the band her name Ani Kyd Wolf (a favorite artist over on Alternative Tentacles and plays in the band THOR). Her contribution was great when the stage got crowded for a few songs.
By then the mosh pit was insane, and Al was thrilled to be feeding off everyone’s energy, and the feeling was mutual from the punters.

Al said, “Ok, you have all been patient and great for this new stuff, we’ll give you all some of what you came here for.” They broke into “N.W.O.”, then “Just One Fix” and then “Burning Inside”. Imagine the video from the “In Case You Didn’t Bother Showing Up” performance in 1990, well, it was just as fun and crazy, with a crowd of punters several times that size. Al stopped to thank us all and say “I don’t know what it is about you in Salt Lake, but you are one of the top 4 most enjoyable cities to play for”. As he continued goading everyone having a good time, while he was giving a very tight, and solid performance.
After they tied it up with “So What” on an encore, he said, “Really, you people are the craziest fans ever, I just love playing here”. They walked off stage, and then after a minute or so, the house lights came up, and then people started to leave. Then Al ran back out on stage and grabbed the mic “NO !!!! DON’T LEAVE YET!!!!”. He explained that they had one more to play, and asked them to turn the lights off, and everything ramped up again. Al was NOW going to give us his 1980s new wave contribution, he said “This is our cover of a 1980s new wave song by a band called “FAD GADGET” called “Ricky’s Hand”. This was as far as I know the first time they have played this since 1986, and thus, the punters were thrilled.

They finished the cover, Al and everyone waved and said “Good night” and the event came to a close. I talked to the guitarist for a few minutes, he has been on previous tours, and he said they were having a lot of fun changing all of this out for this tour. I have always seen Al Jourgensen as a hard-partying, intense, and sometimes over-the-top guy. You always know where he is coming from, and he has had more humor and just good times vibes in his performances lately, that you just enjoy the whole experience. After a ministry show, you feel some sort of euphoria having released all kinds of negative feelings and energy because the music does that for you.
All in all, this was one of the best Ministry gigs I have ever seen. I hope you all can get into one soon, the merch table was getting sacked, and even the Front Line Assembly stuff was running short by the end of the night, once you see any of the bands on this tour, you will know why.


Event :The Residents
Date: March 20 2023
City: Salt Lake City
Venue: Urban Lounge

Before there was even a word for Punk, it was sort of “Performance Art” or “Artistic Rock & Roll” and bands finding a niche for their sound, not a name, there was “The Residents”. For art rock, they have been around as long as the term, and now celebrating 50 years of “Dog Stab”, The Residents have hit the road, showing us all that, even after this long, we can still be inspired and love that which is unconventional. The Residents can be seen as the biggest influence on Primus, The Butthole Surfers, and The Pixies, and countless other bands that we grew up listening to, well, The Residents are where most of that began.
I was able to interview Homer Flynn at the announcement of this tour in the summer of 2021, getting ready for this experience, it was sadly canceled due to the Covid restrictions. But they rescheduled, and I was elated to catch this gig, it was indeed 50 years in the making.
Homer Flynn is the “President” of the “Cryptic Corporation”, who are the management wing of the Performance Art collective known as “The Residents”. No one in this collective has been identified over the 50 years of their making art because of the fact that they wear masks, and do not talk to anyone on stage or during their concerts, just that if anyone is to speak on behalf of the band, it would be Homer Flynn, offstage of course.
The Residents have released many albums, and collaborations. Most recently a tribute album to “Dying Dog“, an almost mythical individual who just vanished one day, leaving behind a box of reel to reel tapes with a friend. Another notable album was “Third Reich and Roll”, an album laden with reverse nazi Imagery, it’s goal to seriously mock the nazi movement. Though that was also one of the main points of the album saying how Rock and Roll often has brainwashed people into not being able to see things for themselves. However you view these guys, the joke is usually on us.

The venue was packed with old school punks and local artists, so many that I have known for the last 35 years, and, well, this was one of those culminations of shows we all have been dying to see. There were plenty of fans in top hats, tuxedos, and lots of bloodshot eyeballs hanging off jackets. After all, it’s “THE RESIDENTS”.
The stage was pretty bare, and no opening act listed. Most of the times “The Residents” show is full of surprises, and the entire evening would be considered the performance, so we were expecting pretty much anything.
This time, they took their positions on the stage in different outfits than we were expecting. They were wearing suits, with fedora hats, black shirts and white ties. Instead of the eyeball with the top hat helmet we have seen for so many years, this time they were wearing very FREAKY masks, fitting tightly to their faces, with glaring jaws and horror film sharp teeth, eyes cut out and they were wearing glasses, with LED Lights on them. Just enough to creep you out, straight out of the Dog Stab video. The suit jackets and pants were also imprinted with bloodshot eyeballs, with the headbands around their fedora hats of the same pattern. YES, it was as unsettling as any other stage costume they have worn in the past, and it was distinctly “The Residents”.

The drummer started tapping away on his all electric drum kit, while the keyboardist started playing along, it was a haunting dark feeling we all started off with. The singer walked up to his mic, and his instrument panel, which was a voice modulator console, this all before the guitarist even got on stage, so, we were in for a long strange ride.
The singer tweaking his voice while we all sat in a strange AWE at what we were experiencing, it just thumped out “Son of a Gun we’ll have fun on the Bayou” the Hank Williams cover.

Then the reverberating sound of water dropping, and his voice turning to creating a sinister vibe, they rolled into “Hello Skinny” while the singer tweaked his vocals as he was singing each line, I then realized that this was the biggest influence on Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers.

By the time they got to “Boxes Full of Armegeddeon” the punters were all dancing in sync to the twisted message about “Death in a box” for retail, available from a politician or arms dealer near you. You really have to re think what the songs are about as you hear them live, many are just a few measures, and less than a minute long.

Unlike most bands, you will have the guitarist switching out instruments, but this evening, the guitarist had 2 guitars, and was spending as much time with his feet on the petal board managing the effects, with his feet as he was on the frets, this you noticed as he got us through “Would We Be A Live” (80 aching orphans).

The vocal shift during “Constantinople” was pretty epic, a man with a voice modulator was able to make such a change with his voice as an instrument, you really get to see how much they can do, with so little on stage.
The singer was dancing with the members in the audience, getting in their faces, and giving everyone a real close up of his mask, that, really was unsettling. All the while the video on the screen behind them was showing the animation, clay-mation, and general graphics from their history that we all have seen over the years. We got plenty of stuff that made us feel like we were in horror films “Monkey Man” and then “Kill Him” with an industrial musical backdrop. The Residents were playing all the classics, but still making them sound current. I noticed on their recent album to “Dying Dog” tribute album, they had been using a lot more industrial sounds in the music, and tonight it seemed to be how they wanted to perform a lot of these classics. You gotta respect a band for being able to play music from their 50 year catalog, and still be able to make the songs sound current. There was no “Nostalgic” feeling to any of the music at this show. I knew the songs, some were 30+ years old, but the sound did not make me remember “Good Times”, so much of it felt like we were hearing it all new.

At this point during the show, I decided “Now or never” to hit the merch table and buy the “Grab Bag” of CD’s. 12 CDs for 50$, and no bag was the same. Promised albums, and compilations, and whatever other weird from the archives. I was happy with the fact that in the bag of CDs that I bought, I got no repeats of something I already had. SCORE.

One song that really stood out was their delivery of “Blue Rosebuds” was actually very intense, for a version, The Residents were playing it off the movements of the audience, like we were all making sure to sway and dance, in perfect sync to the guitar lines. Not what we were expecting, but, then again, it is The Residents, and they do it however they want.

The goods

The finished the set with Hungry Hound, and when they left the stage, someone snagged the guitarist’s setlist. When the came back on for the final number, I actually heard him say “Where the FUCK IS MY SETLIST?” a woman handed it back to him, and he looked it over to finish with the encore “DIE! DIE! DIE!” . They walked off the stage and I got a fistbump from the singer, and the band vanished.

The show was over with no fanfare, just a lot of imagery and great music. The Residents delivered an incredible experience, no two shows are going to be the same, and you feel like you are experiencing history as it is being made at one of their shows.
If you ever get the chance to see “The Residents” perform from their vast catalog of 50+ years, Grab a ticket, and sack the merch table, there were some fantastic pieces there for sale. I wish I was made of money to have bought it all. You might be a little freaked out, even scared, but NEVER disappointed.