See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's slideshow "Peelander-Z, Anamanaguchi @ The Roxy." Read more about Anamanaguchi in Liz Ohanesian's post, "Anamanaguchi's Peter Berkman Shares His Top 3 Influences: Tim and Eric, Japanese Music and Video Games."
We noticed that last night, when the two New York bands stopped by The Roxy as part of a nationwide tour that began a few weeks ago at South by Southwest. We were standing in a long line right in front of a group of Anamanaguchi and Peelander-Z fans that included local DJ Leett (Tune in Tokyo) and musician/DJ Tommy Pedrini (International Pop Conspiracy). Following in the footsteps of Peelander-Z and, possibly, The Power Rangers, they dressed in monochromatic fashion-- Leett in green, Tommy in white and other friends in pink, red and blue. Anamanaguchi's Peter Berkman ran down the backstage stairs and snapped a photo. Shortly thereafter, Peelander-Yellow stopped by to have his picture taken with the group.
This wasn't one of those shows, though, where everyone was dressed for the occasion. (We certainly weren't.) Despite their status as New Yorkers, Anamanaguchi and Peelander-Z played as part of a KROQ Locals Only gig at the Sunset Strip club. They also played early. Anamanaguchi was scheduled for an 8:45 start time. Peelander-Z followed. Regardless, the out-of-town guests drew a sizable crowd that crammed up towards the front of the stage, singing along with pre-recorded Green Day as "Basket Case" filtered through the club while they waited for the bands to appear.
Anamanaguchi has a wonderful way of controlling the stage. They're a band without a singer, working through one 8-bit rock instrumental track after the next with a sense of youthfulness and joy that resonated with the crowd. They write songs about riding skateboards and bounce about the stage as though they're traveling through the Mushroom Kingdom.
Their fans are young. We have our doubts that many in the crowd were old enough to have had a 1985 NES, like the one used to aid Anamanaguchi's songs. Maybe because of that, they brought a great energy to the show. In front of the stage, it felt like we were surrounded by nothing but pure happiness.
Though the band has been around since they late '90s, Peelander-Z seems to be picking up on the same fanbase as Anamaguchi-- young, tapped into comic books and Japanese pop culture-- in addition to their already established audience. The band riffs off of Japanese live-action series like Super Sentai (the basis for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the U.S.), where each person is recognizable by a designated color (i.e., Peelander-Yellow and Peelander-Red). More importantly, though, Peelander-Z will make you part of the show. They hold up cue cards so that you know when they are busting into songs like "Mad Tiger" or "Ninja High School." They also pull fans out of the crowd to assist in portions of the performance. Again, this is where dressing like the band members comes in handy.
DJ Leett, wearing all green with a Riddler cape, was brought on stage to help lead a calisthenics routine.
"I panicked," she said after the show.
"He pulled me up," she said. "He was like, 'Hey, you! Come here!' and pulled me up."
Leett jumped off the stage after a minute or so and began crowd-surfing.
"That was cool," she said. "Never done that before."
James Montagna, dressed in red and wearing a Red Ranger mask, was brought on stage towards the end of the set to take over guitar duties. He said that his only prior guitar experience was playing Rock Band.
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"I tried to look like I was playing, just strumming the beat," he said.
"Peelander-Z is really awesome because the experience is kind of interactive. They get everyone hyped up and singing along," he continued. "I think that's why it's such a good time."
How good of a time was it? Well, the microphones were silenced and the curtain closed over the band as everyone was clamoring for more. That's a good night.
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