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The Snakey Wake was a private party and memorial wake held by The Cryptic Corporation on August 24th 1987 at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, for their collaborator and friend Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman, who had died suddenly of a heart attack on July 1st in Linz, Austria.

The wake is noted for featuring a unique live performance by The Residents, and is also known for featuring the last known public performance by the Bavarian avant-garde composer and music theorist N. Senada.

The Residents later re-recorded their Snakey Wake performance in the studio, and released it as the UWEB EP The Snakey Wake in December 1988. Later reissues of the EP contain the complete recording of the original live performance at the wake, which was issued as a standalone Robot Selling Device EP, Live At The Snakey Wake, in 2010.


Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman had been a long-time friend of The Residents, who had collaborated with them since their earliest recordings and performances, and had most recently appeared with them on their 13th Anniversary Show tour in 1986. Lithman also had a solo career outside of his work with The Residents, releasing a number of solo albums on Ralph Records in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Lithman died unexpectedly in Austria on July 1st 1987 of a heart attack, and his funeral was held in his home country of England. The Residents and a number of other mutual friends were unable to attend the service, and so held their own memorial for Lithman, referred to as "The Snakey Wake". This memorial was held in San Francisco on August 24th 1987.


The Mysterious N. Senada at The Snakey Wake

The Residents arrived dressed in black, wrapped in black netting, and carrying black umbrellas. Snakefinger's friends supplied mementos which were packaged and tied to large black balloons The Residents had inflated during the laments, and which were released into the sky at the end of the night. The performance was their first use of a computer for live music performance, which opened the door to their 1989 tour Cube-E, and other, later touring performances.

The Snakey Wake also featured the last known public appearance of the elderly avant-garde music theorist N. Senada, who met, befriended and mentored The Residents and Snakefinger in the early 1970s. Senada performed his collaborations with the group, "Eloise", "Sandman", and "Kamakazi Lady", in a manner similar to his role in the group's earliest performances. Senada would himself pass away in 1993.

The Residents, unsure of the quality of the recording of the live performance, recreated the Snakey Wake in the studio, releasing it as a limited edition EP through their fan club UWEB in 1988. The recording of the original performance featured on later reissues of this EP, as well as appearing as a standalone Robot Selling Device digital release in 2010.

Alongside The Residents and Senada, other performers included Joshua Raoul Brody, who performed lounge versions of Snakefinger compositions,[1] and Penelope Houston, who Snakefinger had produced for.

Set list[]

The Residents[]

N. Senada[]

Live At The Snakey Wake Robot Selling Device EP (2010)[]

In 2010, The Residents released the original recording of The Snakey Wake as a standalone Robot Selling Device release, titled Live At The Snakey Wake. The release also includes the N. Senada performance.

Track listing[]

  1. Snakey Wake 1 (5:43) [Six More Miles]
  2. Snakey Wake 2 (7:30) [Lamet]
  3. Snakey Wake 3 (2:53) [Exotica]
  4. Snakey Wake 4 (3:45) [Primal]
  5. Snakey Wake 5 (2:14) [Depart]
  6. N. Senada Set (6:41)

Notes from Robot Selling Device[]

Snakefinger died July 1st, 1987, while on tour. In August, The Residents, as well as other San Francisco friends, joined in a celebration of his life and music called The Snakey Wake.

The group had not performed live without Snakefinger as a musical companion since 1983. The only way they saw to do so was to perform with the computer. They quickly developed a stylized sound to use for the short performance which is featured here.

They felt uncertain about the performance enough that they have previously only released a studio version of that night. This is a recording of the actual live event. It is their first use of a computer for music and opened the door for Cube-E live and a world of recordings. It launched their new career with Ryko and the release of God In Three Persons in 1988.

In many ways, this recording is the dividing line between the old Residents and the new Residents. This event forced the group to rethink their direction and plans. Joining the tribute at the end of The Residents section was a brief appearance by The Mysterious N. Senada, also included in this recording.

See also[]

External links and references[]

13thann-sml-transparent The Residents live albums

Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! (1976)
Oh Mummy Oh Daddy Can't You See That It's True What The Beatles Did To Me I Love Lucy Did To You (2010)

The Mole Show (1982 - 1983)
Mole Show (Live At The Roxy) (1983) · Mole Show: Live In Holland (1989)

The 13th Anniversary Show with Snakefinger (1985-1987)
The 13th Anniversary Show - Live In Japan (1986) · Live In The USA! 13th Anniversary Tour (1986)
13th Anniversary Show - Live In Holland (1987) · 13th Anniversary Show - Ritz NY - Jan 16, 1986 (2010)
The 13th Anniversary Show - Cleveland (2014)

The Snakey Wake (1987)
Live At The Snakey Wake (2010)

Cube-E (The History of American Music in 3 E-Z Pieces) (1988 - 1990)
Buckaroo Blues & Black Barry (1989) · Cube-E - Live In Holland (1990)
Cube-E Dynasone 3EZ (2011)

Disfigured Night (1997)
Live At The Fillmore (1998) · Adobe Disfigured Night (2009)
The Marlboro Eyeball Experience (2009) · The Fillmore Dress Rehearsal (Act One) (2009)

Wormwood Live (1998 - 1999)
Wormwood Live 1999 (1999)

Icky Flix Live (2001)
Brava (2010)

Demons Dance Alone (2003)
Demonic! Demons Dance Alone Live In Oslo (2012)

The Way We Were (2005)
The Way We Were (2005)

The Bunny Boy (2008)
Bunny Boy Live In Frankfurt (2021)

The Randy, Chuck & Bob Trilogy (2010 - 2016)
Talking Light (Live) series (2010 - 2011) · Talking Light Live In Rehearsal, Santa Cruz, California (2010)
Talking Light Bimbo's (2011) · The Wonder of Weird (2014) · Shadowland (2015) · Sam's Enchanted Evening (2023)

In Between Dreams (2017 - 2019)
In Between Dreams Live (2019)

God In 3 Persons - Live! (2019 - 2022)
God In 3 Persons (2020)

Dog Stab! / Faceless Forever (2021 - 2023)
Secret Show Live in San Francisco (2024)

Live in the studio
Assorted Secrets (1984) · Roadworms: The Berlin Sessions (2000) · Mole Dance 82 (2021)

Related articles
The Residents discography · The Residents live shows

Nsenada-mintgreen-transparent The Mysterious N. Senada
(1907 - 1993)
  1. UWEB Volume 3 #3 (October 1991)