Seeing Japanese/New Yorkers Peelander-Z play at the Urban Lounge was like witnessing an extra-terrestrial invasion, complete with laserblast guitar riffs and “take-me-to-your-leader” style mispronounced English. Anamanaguchi opened the show (see Ricky Vigil’s review of their set) which was fun enough, but Peelander-Z’s goofball antics really made the night.
Immediately after taking the stage, bassist Kotaro Tsukada AKA Peelander Red, hung from the bar’s ceiling by his feet, playing his duct-tape and sticker covered instrument and howling like a maniac, while the other Peelanders—Yellow, Pink, Green and Black, respectively—played as fast as they could while looking like weirdo bondage-Elvis power rangers. Just how authentic their poor English and heavy accents really are seems questionable, but Peelander Yellow yelling “Herro Salt Rake City!” was the subtle and hilarious touch that really made the crowd tune in and pay attention. The brutally fast, ‘80s hardcore-inspired punk songs seemed to be pieced together out of the few English words the band members actually knew, so they all had names like “So Many Mike” and “Ninja High School.”
Breakdowns and bridges often turned into extended performance art acts in which the band members forcibly encouraged the audience to participate. Two of the Peelanders stretched a rope through the crowd and ran from side to side, making everybody do the limbo whether they wanted to or not. A little bit later they cleared everybody off the dance floor and set up bowling pins. One of the Peelanders donned a giant, foam squid costume and stood on the bar while front man Peelander Yellow counted down from three. The foamy squid beast dived from the bar, knocking down the pins in a perfect strike. The audience, most of which had sunk into the depths of a classy Sunday night intoxication by this point, went berserk, jumping up and down while stray drops of spittle flew from their gaping mouths.
At one point, the band held up a sign that said “bass player wanted,” and a young woman stumbled onto stage after several tipsy, failed attempts. Once she was up there, the audience seemed to feel like some cosmic barrier had been broken, and others followed her up, dancing. Peelander Yellow wasn’t shy about shooing them off, and Peelander Pink handed out beat up cooking pots and broken drumsticks, in much the same way that an exasperated mother shoves a coloring book into her needy child’s sticky hands. It would be easy to dismiss the brightly costumed stage show as being similar to other outer space-themed bands like Gwar, The Aquabats or The Phenomenauts, but that would be doing Peelander-Z a gross injustice. While they are just one step away from not being a rock n’ roll band and rather being a full-blown bizarro party circus, their music stands on its own. Even if Peelanders Yellow and Pink didn’t forcefully engage the audience in weird participation, I would have still danced around like a lunatic, shouting over and over, “Mad tiger! Mad tiger!”