Peelander-Z Brings Out the Freaks and Geeks to the Trunk Space

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In my five years of covering the local music scene for New Times, I've seen some pretty crazy things happen at the Trunk Space. I've witnessed lobster-handed ladies, full grown men dressed as diaper-clad babies, and even half-naked body modification artists piercing their supple flesh with gleaming steel hooks.

But until last night I'd never seen a gigantic guitar-shaped squid made from foam rubbed playing another guitar with its tentacles, or even two dozen people banging pots and pans with drumsticks while other audience members did the limbo. Both odd acts were part of the orgy of outrageousness that ensued when Japanese action-comic punk band Peelander-Z show visited the downtown Phoenix performance venue.

Their 45-minute set capped off an evening of weirdness that featured the local musical freaks of JJCnV, Fathers Day, and other bands, as well as a few attendees who came out wearing costumes or kooky clothing of some sort. There were folks dressed as makeshift superheroes (bath towel capes and all), dudes wearing lipstick, girls wielding puppets, and other nutty behavior.

The night started with some good performances by locals JJCnV and Skinwalkers, followed by an appearance by one-man techno terrorist Fancy Pants. If you've never seen the act, it's somewhat similar to Treasure Mammal or the newly-revived I Hate You When You're Pregnant. A 20something openly homosexual musician named Andy programs sick electronic beats on a Yamaha QY300 sequencer and unleashes his self-described "gay synth core" sound on crowds while singing humorous lyrics in a high-pitched voice. Fancy Pants, who returned to the Valley after spending a good chunk of the last three years living in Japan, started and ended his short set with cover songs (Operation Ivy's "Yelling in My Ear," and Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Fuck White People") and performed some of his "greatest hits" in-between. He also had the best sales pitch of the night when it came time to hawk his CDs and other merchandise: "Buy some of my stuff in the back so I can get more gay porn."

And if you're a fan of Ryan Avery and his punk band Fathers Day, you undoubtedly would've enjoyed their performance. The 21-year-old Mormon frontman put on his usual costumed workout of thrashing, head banging, and rolling about the ground as his bandmates blew through a half dozen or so songs, including a pro-Joe Arpaio number of all things. He also had followed the group's M.O. and spat out some faux misogyny over the mic (the members of Fathers Day like to pretend that they all hate their wives and women in general), including the following joke: "I like my women like I like my snare drums: white, tight, and easy to bang."

As groan-inducing as that particular so-bad-it's-good quip, it was much funnier than local comedian Jim Holland, who served as the concert's emcee. The comic attempted to entertain the audience between sets, but his lame cracks about mimes and whatnot resulted in no laughs and instead induced hostility in the crowd who heckled him endlessly.

But all that was forgotten when Peelander-Z finally took to the stage. If you missed web editor Jonathan McNamara's concert preview from this week's issue, here's the deal: the Japanese (by way of NYC) band consists of a tacky trio three musicians, each representing a different primary color: red, yellow, and green. Their sould is solidly J-Punk that's not unlike their Nippon brethren The Polysics.

The manic music is usually paired with spastic antics during energetic live shows, such as what they whipped out last night. Peelander Red came to the stage wearing the aforementioned squid outfit and before the evening was through, the band performed their trademark stunt of a bandmember dressing up as a bowling pin and throwing himself along the floor in a game of human bowling. In-between, PZ brough audience participation to a whole new level, including handing out pots and pans to audience members and ecouraging them to bang along to the music, goading everyone to form a conga line of sorts, or bringing out a large nylon rope to limbo underneath.

To some, the night could easily be chalked up as just another gimmick band staging a whacked-out show at the Trunk Space. But for those in attendance, it was probably one of most fun shows they ever experienced.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Peelander-Z at the Trunk Space.

Better Than: Appearing on crazy Japanese game show.

Personal Bias: I have a Peelander-Z poster in my office.

Random Detail: Peelander-Z's "green room" consisted of a table and some chairs set up in the dusty vacant lot behind the peformance venue. 

Further Listening: The band's newest album, P-Pop High School.

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