All words: Jeb Gavin
All photos: Kevin Hulse
There was a moment during the Peelander-Z show when I thought, “it strains imagination to think there are people on this planet, in this city, in this very bar, who’ve actively decided to not have this much fun tonight.” The Sunday night show at DC9 was pretty standard fare for the likes of Japanese punk alien superheroes, which is absurd and awe-inspiring and far more intense than even your average hardcore show.
The night started out on an interesting note with opener One-Eyed Doll, a goth-punk duo from Austin. In the same vein as Peelander-Z, their show featured creepy doll face paint, costume changes, and at one point acted out an assault using an audience member as “the white supremacist in Dallas” (all the more interesting when it’s played by a skinny Asian kid wearing the band’s t-shirt). The music is more of a stripped down thrash, middle of the road drumming and overdriven guitar. But the heart of their show is the odd contrast of a tiny woman dressed like a cosplayer howling at the audience, and then chatting with them in a baby voice.
The headlining act spent nearly a half hour sound checking and setting up for the show. Totally worth it, but standing there you have to willfully forget all this the moment the show starts. Peelander-Z describes themselves as punk Japanese aliens, which is really downplaying it. In real life, it’s more like watching wanna-be Power Rangers playing hardcore punk in the middle of Carnival in Rio. The band ran out to a pre-recorded bit about landing on the stage as though it were an alien planet. And somehow after that, things got crazy.
After blasting through a few of their hits, all of which were prompted by posters announcing each song, they played “Mad Tiger”. The song itself is pretty standard punk fare, all things considered. But the band doesn’t do standard. After the song finished, they proceeded to play the samba/disco version of the same song. Dog bowls and drum sticks were passed out to the audience to bang along. Band members danced through the audience, playing and singing and leading everyone in a sort of mass limbo, and then once back on stage, they reprised the punk rock version again.
I cannot stress enough the amount of joy to be had being in the audience, participating in this show. Joining in with the band, carrying the bassist through the crowd to the bar (where he high fived the bartender and finished the song), taking the band’s instruments to play for them when they requested new band members. By the second time the giant squid/guitar monster costume comes out, you’re either on board, or crying in the corner, confused and terrified. And no one cries at these shows. Well, maybe the bowling pins, but they have good reason.