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The Residents have put on different masks over the years — literally, as the anonymous members have never revealed their real identities, instead wearing giant eyeballs, mummy wrapping, freaky skulls and other things over their heads — but they’ve stayed willfully strange for four decades. Their “Wonder of Weird” 40th anniversary tour makes a stop at the Iron Horse in Northampton tonight at 7 p.m.
The conceptual avant-garde group has a highly theatrical bent, creating live shows that use inventive lighting and sets to frame a presence that’s part nightmare, part impish humor. Last time they were in the Valley, circa 1999, they had a large band and used elements of dance, but this tour will be a stripped-down affair, an “offbeat power trio” of guitar, keyboard and vocals.
They’ll reinterpret material from throughout their long career, which has included mutated versions of hits by Elvis, James Brown, the Rolling Stones and others, plus cracked fables, eerie instrumental music and the bands own version of “pop.”
Expect lots of Residents trivia chatter from “Randy Rose,” the current guise of the band’s frontman, who recently made a shockingly normal infomercial for the band’s “Ultimate Box Set” — an actual 28-cubic-foot refrigerator that contains one original release of everything the band ever made, over 100 products in all, including one honest-to-goodness Residents eyeball mask, their iconic (and now-discontinued) image for many years. The price? $100,000.
“Time for you to get movin’, have a bake sale, break open those penny jars, sell a ... kidney if you have to,” he bellows in full-on carnival barker mode.
The dark-humored group isn’t for everyone — for starters, Rose’s strident voice usually sounds like he’s gargled with bleach — but it’s a rare chance to see the legends of the American underground in the Valley.
The Saturday Morning Music Party is back — it’s a free event that promises free pancakes, an airing of an episode of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” plus a dance party with records spun by DJ Youthelectronix. It’s all at Flywheel in Easthampton Saturday at 10 a.m.
Chris Scanlon, Neil & Gina, Manfred Melcher and Secret Sage make up the quadruple bill at Luthiers Co-Op in Easthampton Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Bamboo Steamers brings its surf-rock instrumentals and rollicking pop tunes to the Basement in Northampton Saturday at 8 p.m.
Rainy Day People, the Gordon Lightfoot and Jim Croce Tribute, features singer Paul Motter and musicians Jeff Tisdel and Rudi Weeks performing the music of the two famed troubadours at the Iron Horse Sunday at 7 p.m. Lisa Martin opens.
Goldwater the Second, featuring Thane Thomsen on vocals and guitar, Melissa Nelson on cello and vocals and Scott Hall on piano, plays at Luthiers Co-Op Sunday at 8 p.m.
Local bands Home Body and Rabbit Rabbit appear at the Elevens in Northampton Thursday at 9 p.m.
The Demographic (dynamic guitar-and-drum duo of Tom Pappalardo and Sturgis Cunningham), The Claudia Malibu (interstellar pop band manned by Captain Luke Cavagnac) and The Warblers (garage fuzz power quartet led by Mike Mascis) team up for a rock triple-bill at the Sierra Grille in Northampton Thursday at 10 p.m.