The Eyes Have It

The Residents are legend. In the early 1970s they sent a demo tape to Warner Bros., which promptly sent it back in an envelope marked, merely, "Residents." They took it as a sign: The helpful executive had chosen a name for them before setting them on their own path. Do we know this is true? No. Does anyone other than the Residents themselves know it's true? No. But (as we've said) the Residents are legend. They've written a lot about themselves that, regardless of whether it really happened, is really fun to read. What we do know about them is they're a group of artists who came to San Francisco about 40 years ago from Louisiana (maybe), and they've experimented with music, photography, film, costumes, performance, and many forms of digital equipment to become legendary in San Francisco and elsewhere. (They were once even big in Japan.) We know they love James Brown, Hank Williams, and Captain Beefheart. One of their best friends is Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. We're not sure why, but they've always kept their identities a secret (although, depending on whom you know, the secret's not very well kept). For years the four (now three) wore tuxedos, top hats, and giant eyeballs over their heads when they performed. Their newest project is Talking Light. It's based on ghost stories, and it includes the numbers "Unseen Sister," "Pudding in Disguise," and "Ghost Snake" (which may or may not refer to their late coconspirator and guest guitarist, Snakefinger, who we're very sure was real). They plan to film these shows in 3-D for, well, who knows what. You never know what to expect with these guys (if they are, in fact, all guys), except a really weird experience that you won't forget.
April 15-16, 9 p.m., 2011

 
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