Peelander-Z, Electric Eel Shock and Anamanaguchi Send Peelander Red Off at Fitzgerald’s

Electric Eel Shock at Fitzgerald's in Houston, TX
Electric Eel Shock guitarist and lead singer Akihito Morimoto.
Electric Eel Shock at Fitzgerald's in Houston, TX
Peelander Red and Yellow at Fitzgerald's in Houston, TX

Peelander Yellow and Red face off at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, TX.[/media-credit]

Houston, TX—Peelander-Z is legendary for their over-the-top shows that frequently have band members pulling stunts like playing bass while swinging upside down from the rafters or convincing the entire audience to limbo en masse. But behind the vinyl, squid monster costumes and the lucha libre tiger masks, the best reason to see a Z show may be the entourage of bands eager to open for them on tour.

For their current U.S. tour, Peelander-Z enlisted some of the greater acts they’ve shared stages in the last two years: Electric Eel Shock, Math the Band, and for one glorious night in Houston, TX (more on this in a bit), chiptune pioneers Anamanaguchi.

So I put it to you: when was the last time you went to a show without expecting to make idle chit-chat or nurse a rapidly warming beer while wading through whoever’s pulling an open mic night on stage? The relief! The anticipation! I bounded up the steps of Houston’s Fitzgerald’s music venue two at a time knowing that someone clutching guitars was moments away from taking the stage—and this time they wouldn’t suck!

Electric Eel Shock at Fitzgerald's in Houston, TX

Electric Eel Shock guitarist and lead singer Akihito Morimoto.

Electric Eel Shock are tour-worn harbingers of the sort of old-school, gritty rock ‘n’ roll that makes Justin Bieber piss his pants. For more than 13 years, they’ve traveled the world converting her citizens to the gospel of rock one explosive gig at a time. And the converts were there, devil horns raised and metallic spikes shining on hand-crafted denim vests, packed in with the normal Peelander-Z crowd of tweeny high-schoolers and punky 20-somethings as the show began.

There is an underlying tension of danger in Electric Eel Shock’s music, like the rush of doubling the speed limit knowing that eventually karma and a bunch of angry patrol cars are going to catch up to you. You can see it in the demonic gaze of lead sing Akihito Morimoto’s eyes as he pounds away on the strings, mouthing guitar solos note for not as he plays them. Then there’s drummer Tomoharu “Gian” Ito who takes the stage wearing only a tube sock (a very long tube sock) which he holds like a gun between sets to snipe audience members, pounding on the bass pedal with each shot.

You can perceive a palpable sense of getting away with something irresistibly fun especially during songs like “I Can Hear the Sex Noise” which the band launched into prempted by Moriomoto rubbing his crotch with both hands and screaming to the crowd, “I can hear the something noise!”

Electric Eel Shock bassist Kazuto Maekawa.

Electric Eel Shock bassist Kazuto Maekawa.

Electric Eel Shock riffed through a ton of material in their hour or so set including “Rock ‘N’ Roll Can Rescue The World” from 2005’s Go USA!, “Bastard!,” “Don’t Say Fuck,” and an “Iron Man” cover from Beat Me and their latest single “My Favorite No. 9” which is literally a count down of the band’s favorite things:

“Fishing is number one / Beer is my favorite number two / Osaka pancake is number 3 / And then watching MMA is number four”

Electric Eel Shock’s “My Favorite No. 9”

Those of you lucky enough to make it to Austin, TX for SXSW 2012 may have caught Electric Eel Shock playing a couple of unofficial showcases with Peelander-Z. I for one definitely braved the heat and jam-packed, make-shift venues conjured up in East Austin’s bar parking lots to see them. And while I was grateful to take in EES via an outdoor stage and borrowed PA systems, seeing them rock face at a full-blown venue complete with stage lights and a lingering lager stench was much better.

Math the Band also played at those dusty outdoor showcases put on by Peelander-Z earlier this year. And because I was a dope who didn’t check the actual tour schedule, I was convinced that the duo of happy rockers who (God knows why) decided to name their band after mathematics would take the number two spot at the show. I was wrong in the best possible sense.

Instead, Peelander-Z 2011 tour mates Anamanaguchi took to the stage complete with pulsating light towers eerily reminiscent of game-no-work screens that flash upon your TV before you blow out the Nintendo cartridge and try again.

Anamanaguchi takes the stage at Fitzgerald's.

Anamanaguchi takes the stage at Fitzgerald’s.

If you aren’t aware of the magic that is chiptune music, let me set you straight. Anamanaguchi programs complicated musical sequences on a Nintendo Entertainment System then physically brings it on stage to blow your mind with 8-bit sounds while they rock over the top with guitars and drums. The result is an ear candy created for the ears of all of us who grew up having electronic adventures in the dark with mushroom-eating plumbers and fighting robots.

For all the inevitable gamer nostalgia, though, there is very little (the drummer has a Legend of Zelda triforce tattoo) about Anamanaguchi that comes directly from the games that inspire their music. There are no covers. Instead, the band pulls out pulsing dance rock with an retro, electronic feel best samples by listening to songs like “Airbrushed” and “My Skateboard Will Go On.”

From the Fitzgerald’s performance, it sounds as though Anamanaguchi may be moving in an even dancier direction. The band played a few new tracks from a new album they expect to release in 2013.

Peelander-Z’s “Get Glasses” recored Live at Austin’s Red 7 in October.

Despite giving us a small taste during a short tour earlier this year, Peelander-Z did not pull any material from their upcoming album during the Houston performance. Not one of the audience members, smiles plastered ear-to-ear, seemed to mind. Peelander-Z showed up ready to rock face despite playing Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX, the day before.

Peelander Red rocks Fitzgerald's for the last time.

Peelander Red rocks Fitzgerald’s for the last time.

This show felt more about reliving the past than promoting the future largely of the announced departure of bassist and founding member Peelander Red after the tour’s end. As I previously reported, Peelander-Z released a video in which Red claims that he’s taking a full-time job teaching at “Ninja High School.” His actual reasons for leaving the band are thus far unknown.

Judging by his performance Sunday night, Red has decided that it’s better to burn out than fade away. I watched the man played bass standing straight up above the crowd, held in place by dozens of fans too excited to notice their straining arms. Later, wearing a vinyl monster costume made of equal parts squid and guitar (known to Z fans as the “aka ika”), Red rode through a parted audience on a unicycle.

The slimmest acknowledgement of Red’s departure came before the band’s big finish when he uncharacteristically grabbed the mic to explain his ties to the city of Houston to the Fitzgerald’s audience.

“Houston is the first town I lived in America,” he said. “So Houston is my American home town!”

Peelander Pink.

Peelander Pink.

It’s unlikely that Peelander-Z will stop human bowling or singing songs about dudes named “Mike” (there are so many of them), but with a founding member’s departure and a new album on the way, it’ll be interesting to see how they change things up. Their latest release, Space Vacation, now figures heavily into their show which starts with the same eery, Sci-Fi countdown from the album and ends with Peelander Pink’s high-octave cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” “Zero Gravity” another track from Vacation had its own cardboard sign this time around much like classics “Mad Tiger” and “S.T.E.A.K.” Who knows what unheard tracks will be immortalized in cardboard signs by the next time Peelander-Z rolls around?

Peelander-Z with Electric Eel Shock and (one night only) Anamanaguchi
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.
Peelander-Z’s current tour continues through November. Check Peelander-Z’s official site for tour dates.

Photos by: Jonathan McNamara


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