The Magical Efficacy of Peelander-Z

Peelander-Z stormed in with their infectious fun-driven insanity at the Camel in Richmond, Virginia on November 7, 2007. Self-labeled as “Japanese action comic punk,” the New-York-based trio invigorated the socially sleepy downtown Richmond only a few blocks away from the iconic confederate hero Robert E Lee statue, one of the most visible structures in the city. Richmond’s cultural landscape may not be as dormant, regressive or even washed out as it seems above-ground. The presence of an anime punk band, to a large degree, resonates with the backdrop of Richmond as an East Coast hub of punk and hardcore that gave birth to GWAR. The aesthetic genealogy of Peelander-Z, to my knowledge, must have crossed that of GWAR somewhere along their outrageous ride of high-energy, raw sound and dramatic characterization.

“We are not American! We are not Japanese! We’re not even human! We are Peelander-Z!!!!” [All vocal gestures by Peelander-Z reverberated with exclamations.] Proclaiming to be of an anime-derived outer-space species, Peelander-Z wore power-ranger-like polyester suites and played through a series of tune-driven segments interwoven with interactive routines such as audience call and response and human bowling. Peelander-Z demonstrated the “claw” and the audience responded with their “claw” back during opening tune “Mad Tiger.” Peelander-Red then dragged out a suitcase full of pots, pans, and drumsticks while inviting the audience members to join the band by making percussive sounds. Human Bowling, as one would imagine, was one Peelander member bowling his band member across the hall and into a set of bowling pins. Throughout the set, the drummer held up signs to cue the audience into responding with particular phrases, gestures or actions.

The audience, comprised of mostly 20-or-30-something White Americans with punk-inflected apparel (tapered jeans and canvas Vans), got wild, dirty, and down with Peelander-Z. The women especially went nuts during the interactive breakdown sessions. I saw three girls in their early teens with their fathers, who had on autographed Peelander-Z Tshirts. Even the audience members most unfamiliar with the band felt connected to be participants.

Peelander-Z’s interactive techniques demonstrate an impeccable and unexpected synthesis between elements from punk, anime, and Japanese/Asian game shows (popular in East Asia. The premise of these show is for audience to interact with celebrity icons). There is something mysterious and almost ritualistic about Peelander-Z’s live shows. I shed all my skepticism and inhibition after their “Mad Tiger Claw” warmup. Their power of conjuring up immediacy, liveness, and interactivity is shamanistic – perhaps more efficacious than the folk evocation of personal sincerity and social intimacy.

How about a Kodak moment with Peelander-Z? [more images]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They sure seem crazy as hell LOL! Looks like fun times!