SXSW Review: The Residents, March 20, Paramount Theatre

the residents

People have complained over the last few years about SXSW becoming too corporate and commercial, but let’s give credit where credit is due – The Residents played there this year. By booking The Residents to play the festival, they couldn’t have made much more of a non-commercial choice … although something tells me that the avant garde art collective/band would somehow appreciate a stage that looks like a giant vending machine (RIP, giant vending machine stage. You were just too bold for this earth). The band were here promoting a new documentary Theory of Obscurity during the film portion of SXSW, but luckily for us they would also be performing Shadowland, their latest show and the last in the “Randy, Chuck and Bob” trilogy. Singer Randy explained the concept behind the trilogy as “death, sex and birth – it’s life in reverse.”

Shadowland was a nice change of pace from most of the shows happening at SXSW, coming across as much more of a theatre piece than a standard rock show. In addition to performances of the band’s music, the show involved several interstital video clips of various people from different walks of life, all wearing skull masks and giving testimonials of sorts on love, death, relationships, past lives and life in general. The videos tied the songs together and helped to drive the theme home a bit. Randy would regularly shout out “Shadowland!” to signal when another video would come on, and maybe also to remind us of the name of the show.

Towards the end of the performance, Randy announced that this would be Chuck’s last show with The Residents. “He’s Been doing it since 1981, 1982 … way back,” he said, before adding, “I just wanna give him one more hug – hard and tenderly.” It was a sweet, real, life affirming moment in a show about life and death. Pretty damn appropriate if you think about it

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Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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