The Residents Free at Noon - 03.31.2023

In an immediate front-runner for most unusual Free At Noon concert of all time, American art rock collective The Residents held court at World Cafe Live this afternoon for today’s Free at Noon concert; their Faceless Forever tour comes to The Foundry of The Fillmore Philadelphia tonight.

The band is legendary for delivering over a half century’s worth of bizarre albums and live performances without ever having revealed their true identities; in the early days, they famously took the stage wearing giant eyeball heads. Today, wrapped their faces in patterned fabric that matched their coordinated zoot suit attire and shades; think Rorschach dressed vaguely like Jim Carrey in The Mask with the smile of The Joker. Menacing, but playful, but definitely menacing, and further enhanced by the backdrop of black and white stripes and a circular projection screen full of distressed imagery.

Sonically, it was a textured wash of complex riffs, dark synths, driving drums, and vocals modulated up to and sometimes beyond the fringe of intelligibility. For the uninitiated, The Residents might come across like demented sci-fi cartoon music with a lyrical fixation on death and disaster, but you could also trace their lineage through subsequent generations of outsider rock and roll artistry, like Butthole Surfers, Ween, and The Flaming Lips.

Four of the Free At Noon’s eight songs feature on their 1978 compilation release Duck Stab / Buster & Glen — “Hello Skinny,” “Laughing Song,” “Bach Is Dead,” “Semolina” — but this isn’t really a they-played-this-song-from-that-release kind of band. The best way to get a sense of the show is to experience it, so do it yourself by watching the performance in full below. Tickets are still available for The Residents’ concert tonight at The Foundry, more information can be found at WXPN’s Concerts and Events page.

The Residents - Full Set (Free at Noon Concert)
The Residents
Free At noon
  • Hello Skinny
  • Cut To The Quick
  • Laughing Song
  • Bach Is Dead
  • Boxes of Armageddon
  • Would We Be Alive
  • Semolina
  • Die! Die! Die!