THE RESIDENTS MOLE SHOW Kabuki Nightclub at Japan Center, San Francisco
When I heard that the Residents were going to make a live appearance I knew I'd have to be there. Even though I live in Omaha, Nebraska, I knew I had to go.
The Residents are one of the few true phenomenons of western pop culture. They are the only rock group I can think of that has garnered world renown while remaining totally anonymous. Now that's good PR! On top of that, they have a totally unique sound that is immediately identifiable.
On October 26 and 27th, the Kabuki Nightclub played host to this strange bunch. The show started before the curtain rose with all the Ralph Records people running around in Groucho Marx-type masks, wearing gray overalls with "Residents Mole Show" logos on them. There was a booth selling Residential memorabilia such as the Santa Dog memorial sponge. Security was tight and I could not get a camera inside.
As I sat at my table trying to collect myself for what was about to happen, I was soothed to the strains of "Residents Intermission" music, which was being played publicly for the first time. Nice.
Suddenly, lights out and the fab four greet us from a completely dark stage, except for these little flashlight lanterns the Residents were carrying. They slinked around the stage waving the lanterns at the audience before going behind a scrim of burlap (I think) where the equipment was set up.
To either side of the Residents setup were two large canvases depicting the mole people in their various stages of life. The mole show workers with Groucho masks would come out and change these pictures from time to time while the Residents played.
The first number was "Voices of the Air," the beginning of the Mole trilogy. I'll be damned if the Residents didn't sound ten times better live! I was stunned. The music had a three-dimensional quality unlike the studio recordings.
Then this woman with her face painted black steps out to sing, "People must be left alone, unless they have a happy home.
After this first number a young man named Penn Jillette comes onstage and announces that he is the emcee for the show. His voice sounds familiar. I'm sure he is the person giving the weather report at the beginning of the mark of the Mole album. He became more involved in the show as things developed.
And don't let me forget the dancers! In my opinion the dance troupe was the ingredient that really made the whole thing come together. I was sitting right at the edge of the stage and could see the intense concentration in the dancers' eyes and movements. They too wore the Groucho masks.
Let me also mention here that when the Residents first came onstage they were wearing the famous tuxes and eyeballs. When they started to play, they too donned the Groucho face pieces.
The music built up in intensity and volume after the first few numbers. More props were employed such as little mole people figures that were moved about by the dancers, and the "tired old man" who makes a guest appearance.
There was an intermission and when the curtain rose again, The Residents came out wearing boxer shorts and undershirts. You still couldn't see their faces but just about everything else!
Penn Jillette really got carried away about this time. As Penn is trying to explain what's happening, one of the mole dancers grabs his mike and shoves him offstage. Moments later they bring him back gagged and handcuffed to a wheelchair.
The first night of the show I couldn't tell if this part was real or not. The Residents played with intense ferocity at this point, singing the song about hatred. Hmmm...
Finally a Resident comes from behind the screen to apologize to poor Penn. Mr. Resident goes into a speech that doesn't really make any sense and frees our emceŠ friend.
Right after that they play "Satisfaction." The final number is "Happy Home" from Tunes of Two Cities. We get a final glimpse of the lady in blackface.
In closing I will say what I kept thinking to myself as I watched the show. I thought, "This must be what it's like to see a UFO!" -Dereck Higgins _1983
Typed by Cheryl Vega 6-12-95