“No one should leave!”
“Just stay for a couple songs!”
It wasn’t a successful strategy; the place cleared out. Those who remained had already staked their position up again the stage. They had sat through five other bands and were primed for some Peelander-Z.
It was a scenario that I can only liken to attending a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with absolutely no clue as to what the film was about or what interactive rituals were about to unfold. Granted, I knew the basics of P-Z—their style of music and that they wore costumes—but I didn’t know just how elaborate and interactive that their live show was.
So it went like this: Peelander-Z takes the stage dressed up as professional wrestlers. They are Peelander-Red (Bass), Peelander-Yellow (Guitar), and Peelander-Blue (Drums.) As the set began, it was quickly evident that this was not just a show, but a fully interactive experience. In between songs, signs were held up displaying the next song’s title, or some random message—including “NUTS MANIA,” “STEAK,” “TOY MANIA,” “MUCUS,” and “Y.Y.Y”—to which the screaming crowd would respond to in kind. It was sensory overload time.
Ten minutes in, a Creepy employee sees me feverishly scribbling in my notebook. He waves his hand, tells me to close it and just enjoy the show. It is perfect timing, as I am seconds away from doing just that. There is too much activity going on and I was getting lost. Welcome to the world of Peelander-Z.
A few minutes later, Yellow—who screamed so much that he could easily find work as a Japanese game show host—jumps off stage, lowers his head and makes a charge right at me. Instinctively, I sidestep him and he mimics running into the couple behind me. Afterward, I wondered if that was part of the show—and if I screwed it up by not delivering a clothesline or a choreographed elbow to the head.
The show continues on as usual—or as usual as can be expected—until PZ put down a handful of bowling pins. People quickly lift the all-ages fence to give Yellow a clear path. Starting at the front of the club, Yellow runs toward the stage and slides into the bowling pins. At this point, things descend into chaos as Peelander-Blue jumps from the stage and hits Yellow on the head with a padded folding chair. When PZ eventually makes it back to the stage, they pull three audience members up with them and hand over their instruments mid-song. Various tambourines and other noisemakers are then passed around to those up front. Obviously, at this point, any semblance of a melody is nonexistent. However, it doesn’t matter as Blue holds up a sign displaying “Don’t Think. Just Feel.” It is a fitting conclusion for the evening.
Peelander-Z is without a doubt the best gimmick/joke band that I have seen in years. Now if you will excuse me, I need to read up on the Peelander-Z Rules of Engagement for the next time they come through town.