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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Review: The Residents - Wormwood DVD

Ah, The Residents, the band I love and love to beat around the head for their bad choices. The live Wormwood DVD is but the latest in their recent efforts to release everything and anything, blowing to bits their old Theory Of Obscurity. They even preface the show with the title card "The Residents Video du Jour".

It's my guess Big Rez (the singer and possibly only remaining original member even though my bet is there's one more) is semi-retired. On their most recent cd, Animal Lover, you can sense the reins being handed over to a vague group of others. Oh well, I only hope Big Rez unveils himself while he's still alive and writes the book on The Residents that must be written.

Wormwood, released in 1998, saw them taking stories from the bible and presenting them as horrible acts of violence and cruelty. Big Rez on the DVD (as the narrator Mr. Skull) makes it a point they're not insulting religion but only trying to shine a light into the dark corners of the bible. The cd may do this this but not the live show, where hatred of western religion pours out everywhere. Like, whatever, but the stage show is angry and bitter, which wouldn't be a deal breaker if it also wasn't slow and often boring.

Wormwood hasn't aged well. Demons Dance Alone was a little better musically and a whole lot better live. Animal Lover needs to be rebuilt from the ground up but there's a lot there to be admired. By my count there's six good songs on the Wormwood cd, and only three were put in the live show. The three they did include are intentionally slowed down and made ugly. The Residents consistently slow down songs live, unlike every other band I know. 'Splain me Lucy!

The show is filmed well and the sound is good, a surprise considering it was recorded for a webcast. This is from July 16, 1999 in Bonn, Germany. I saw the Los Angeles show on April 24, and I don't remember Mr. Skull being as snivelly and sarcastic. Molly Harvey is, of course, the poop, and her focus on character is amazing.

It's as obvious now as then that the staging of Wormwood left a lot to be desired. Each song involves a simple gimmick and endless repetitive movements. The stage is just way too big. I love Big Rez but all he does is move about like a bull ape imitating Dracula.


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