Peelander-Z with Electric Eel Shock
Better Than: That “Masquerade Ball” down the street.
I face a dilemma before going to see Japanese punk rockers Peelander-Z on Saturday night: What the hell should I wear? It's the Saturday before Halloween, and this is a band that dresses up like a cross between the Aquabats and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Should I break out the red goggles and the silver pants and go for it? Or opt for journalistic anonymity?
In the end, I go for the anonymous look. Smart choice.
10:10 PM: I arrive at the Bootleg and give the small crowd a quick once-over. Not one fucking person is wearing a costume. I am simultaneously relieved and disappointed. On the one hand, I fit right in. On the other, don't these people know they're about to see the world's only “Japanese Action Comic Punk Band?” They could have at least worn capes or something.
The opening act, another Japanese group called Electric Eel Shock, is dressed like a hardcore band circa 2003, except I get the impression this isn't a Halloween thing. Their sound is balls-to-the-wall sleaze metal. The lead singer wears a Municipal Waste T-shirt and plays a Flying V. The drummer plays with double sticks and is clad only, Chili Peppers style, in a cock sock. He's playing Peelander-Z's drum kit bare-assed, and I hope for the sake of Peelander's drummer that he at least brought his own stool.
10:17 PM: Finally, I see someone in costume by the bar. I go over to take a photo and it's Peelander-Z's singer/guitarist, Peelander Yellow.
Onstage, Electric Eel Shock are playing a song called “Sex Noise.” The guitarist leers at the still-sparse crowd and humps his Flying V. The bass player non-chalantly plays one-handed. I'm starting to like these guys.
11:09 PM: After a disembodied voice announces the launch of “Starship Peelander,” Peelander-Z take the stage in full silver-helmeted, sci-fi drag. Their latest album is called Space Vacation, so they're really playing up the whole not-of-this-Earth thing (they're from the planet Peelander, after all). Besides Peelander Yellow, there's also Peelander Red on bass, Peelander Green on drums and Peelander Pink, the group's lone female member, on vocals and the occasional synth. They look fantastic.
11:23 PM: In my notes I hastily jot down, “Squid limbo unicycle.” This is because we've all just limbo-ed under an enormous rope stretched from the stage to the back of the Bootleg, and now Peelander Red is barreling towards me on a unicycle, dressed up as a giant squid. I knew Peelander shows got wacky, but this is exceeding all expectations.
11:35 PM: I'm onstage, shuffling past Peelander's gear in a conga line made up of nearly the entire audience. Amazingly, when I get back to the floor, my beer is exactly where I left it. Politest punk-rock crowd ever.
11:58 PM: I come back from a bathroom break to find random audience members playing Peelander-Z's instruments, while the band organizes a game of “squid bowling” out in the crowd. The game consists of Peelander Yellow pushing Peelander Red, in his giant squid costume, across the room and into a set of 10 plastic bowling pins. He scores a strike, which probably happens every night but is awesome nonetheless.
12:06 PM: The band finishes its final song, a campy cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” led by the helium-voiced Peelander Pink. Peelander Yellow declares us all to be members of the newly constituted nation of “Peelander Los Angeles.” Actually, in his broken English, he just points at us and yells, “You…Peelander Los Angeles!” But to me, at least, the message is clear: Next time I see these guys, I'm totally wearing my red goggles and silver pants. Even if it's not Halloween.
Personal bias: I have a thing for costumed rock bands — next week, I'm going to see GWAR. Peelander-Z aren't that outrageous but they did the trick.
The crowd: Not enough cosplay. Although the one hot chick in full Peelander Pink regalia and the dude moshing in a giant unicorn head nearly made up for everyone else's lack of effort.
Random notebook dump: I'm grateful to the band for announcing each of their songs with a giant hand-lettered title card. Makes taking notes on their set list much easier.
Set list below
So Many Mike
Under Zero Gravity
Taco Taco Tacos
Ninja High School
Girls Just Want to Have Fun