They may be anonymous, but the Residents need little introduction. Since the mid-70s they've been held up as genuine, slickproof eccentric holdouts--a band to be cherished, if not necessarily listened to. Not to mention they were tech geeks before it was cool, which still endears them to tech geeks everywhere, even those who realize that pop's avant-garde has long since caught up to them. In the 90s the Residents' recorded output has gone mostly multimedia--laser discs and CD-ROMs--and fans have been more likely to come face-to-face (or face-to-eyeball mask, I guess) with the band at New York's Museum of Modern Art than in any rock club. But the 25th-anniversary box set Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses (1997) restored the Residents' pop, uh, visibility, and in late 1998 they released Wormwood, their first "normal" studio album since 1990's Freak Show. It's a concept album that explores 20 of the darkest tales in the Bible--stories of murder, betrayal, and hideous sexual abuse and various and sundry snapshots of Yahweh as sociopath. On the plus side: the most mysterious Resident of all, a lone lady eyeball, sings improbable songs like "How to Get a Head" (Salome's tale) and improbable lines like "I sliced the skin from his cock" with better way-way-off-Broadway spirit than anyone since Sally Timms in the Mekons-Kathy Acker collaboration Pussy, King of the Pirates. On the minus side: God is an easy target. But as a theatrical experience, like the staged version of Pussy at the MCA in 1997, this could be a whole 'nother animal. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.