AUSTIN, TX—Peelander-Z is anything but shy about their love for the live music capital of the world. Though based in NYC, the band has relied on Austin-based Chicken Ranch Records to produce their last three albums (P-TV-Z, Super DX Hits, and most recently, Space Vacation) and their forthcoming album due out in 2013. An East Side Kings food truck is adorned with Peelander Yellow’s (Kengo Hioki) artwork, as is Guzu Gallery, where the wacky frontman currently has a few dozen of his linocut prints on display. Similarly, the band members are rarely seen without some of Austin’s more recognizable symbols such as patches from the Austin Facial Hair Club.
So it’s no shock to ATX-based Z fans that the almighty kings of action-comic-punk kicked off their latest tour with a gig at Austin’s own Red 7 on Saturday night.
When the headliner is famous for pulling off stunts like making the entire audience limbo, the opening acts have some big-ass shoes to fill. Austin’s Neon Cobra took the first whack at it with their blatantly sexual, inexplicably patriotic anthems dripping with ’80s hair-metal nostalgia. Their set climaxed with the lead singer smashing a perfectly good acoustic six-string (painted with with red and white stripes and a blue silhouette of a howling wolf) directly into the skull of his lead guitarist.
Biters, a southern rock outfit from Atlanta, GA, laid down some muddy guitar solos, but had their most memorable moment when lead singer, Tuk, asked the crowd if it would “be too much to ask” for a sexy lady to drink his “throw up.”
Wacky antics were not in the cards for Austin-based Ghost Knife who instead chose the higher path of playing righteous punk music very, very well. Lead singer Mike Wiebe (who also croons for a little group called Riverboat Gamblers) did take a moment of his set to congratulate Ghost Knife on getting played on an episode of MTV’s “Teen Mom.”
“I’ve always wanted to be part of a song writing process that results in being on the soundtrack for abject human failure,” Wiebe said.
Red 7 got red hot when five heroes from the planet Peelander appeared on stage in the cosmic costumes they’ve been rocking since Space Vacation was released earlier this year: cosmonaut-approved, metallic-silver shorts and padded kickboxing helmets with toys and lights glued on.
Speaking of Space Vacation, the band got much more into the tracks from that album instead of merely relying on old standbys like “Tacos” and “So Many Mike.” The same Sci-Fi monologue that starts Space Vacation signaled to the audience that Peelander-Z was touching down and leading them directly into the album’s title track.
As if by magic, Peelander-Z turned a crowd of sweaty, alcohol-fueled mosh men into a somewhat orderly rabble as they split the audience for human bowling and got just about everyone to get low with some improvised limbo action. As per usual, the Z also “hired” new drummers and bassists directly from the ecstatic crowd. But the show stopper came when Peelander Red hoisted himself into Red 7′s rafters then swung upside down by a bungie cord while rockin’ out.
When Peelander-Z did bring out the fan favorites, newest member Peelander Black breathed new life into them with guitar solos of a musical skill the band is usually not credited with. During a performance of “Glasses” later in the set, Black played coy with the audience by refusing to let his guitar rip until Yellow placed a pair of Peelander spectacles on his face. When he did let loose the hounds of rock, it was impossible not to take notice.
But Black’s guitar solos are hardly the only thing from Peelander-Z causing fans and newcomers alike to take notice. The Z seems more popular than ever these days thanks to making the cover of Performer Magazine, gracing a spread in Paper, appearing on WGN News in Chicago and NBC 4 New York in anticipation of Brookyln’s Great GoogaMooga music festival as well. Peelander-Z was also in the sea of bands announced for this year’s Fun Fun Fun Festival in Austin, TX.
Perhaps the Peelander P stands for “prolific.” With the as-of-yet-untitled 2013 album, the band will have released four new albums and a greatest hits double album since 2009. All signs point to the new release being one of the best. Hot off a U.S. tour with Peelander Z earlier in the year, Electric Eel Shock guitarist Aki Morimoto is a confirmed guest on the new album. And the single new track Peelander Z let slip during an encore on Saturday night, is doozy; especially if you’re lactose intolerant. Called “Shake My Shake,” the new song is ballad for Yellow’s baby who he misses so much on tour. Who is his baby? A vanilla milkshake.
The way of Z doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be fun. And when Peelander-Z’s playing a show, it always is.
Peelander-Z’s got a few more dates on their current tour. Check out the full listings and pray to the rock gods that they show up in your town soon.