Growing up, my brother and I were burgeoning Japanophiles, like I suspect many prepubescent boys are. Anime, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Pokemon, and other exports made up a lot of our lives. The Power Rangers caused controversy in our household and across America by, I guess, inspiring boys to inflict karate on each other, which is also known as kids kicking other kids while shouting "hiya!" The aesthetic that drew us to these properties was a certain frenetic, colorful energy. Pokemon, infamously, was so full of life that it inflicted seizures on its viewers. Rad!
As I grew older, I started becoming involved in the local music scene. What I immoderately started noticing was how reluctant bands were to invest themselves into putting on a show. Perhaps it was just a hangover of the ‘90s, with bands preferring to stand on the stage and let the songs do the talking. What I started latching onto, though, was bands that placed an emphasis on doing something unique onstage. I first started thinking about this during my time down at South by Southwest in 2011. I saw scores of bands, down there, that put their all into performing for anyone that might happen by, and the bands that might've sounded great, but didn't put a thought into their stage presence, simply faded away.
Where are we now? Well, I still find myself drawn to bands that put the time and effort into creating an act for themselves. After all, it's a hard life being an independent band, living a life on the road and counting on tour dollars to justify the time and energy you've put in your craft.
On my end, I'm constantly looking for bands that take a moment to put a little something extra into the show that they're presenting to people. Sometimes, like this week, it pays off in a way I couldn't have expected. For all my big talk about bands not having style or gimmicks, I've been presented Peelander-Z, which is like the monkey's paw version of the type of band that I've been demanding to exist.
I get it, Zeus. I flew too close to the sun.
For the uninitiated, Peelander-Z is a Japanese punk band that seems to have been conjured by the collective id of my prepubescent brother and his friends. Started in 1998, Peelander-Z is a group of people who dress as anime characters, but not like Sailor Moon, or anything. Like the Archies or the Gorillaz, Peelander-Z are their own characters, with vibrant makeup and costumes. This is a group of people that dress in bold colors and do their darndest to create an environment of silliness and wild, punk nonsense.
Not that Peelander-Z could ever really be overshadowed, but they'll be joined by three other punk bands that favor weirdness: Actionesse is a band that attacks with a saxophone in a way that brings Morphine to mind, though they use it to accent jittery songs that lean on anxiety; Dead Bars plays on the interplay between messiness and neatly composed songs, finding a purity in pop punk; and the Hop Monsters are pop punks that like their booze, and you should give them lots of it.
This is a show that requires your attention. Peelander-Z is showing up in Tacoma, for some reason, and you'd be a fool to miss their bizarre antics in the flesh. It's not often that Tacoma gets to see a band that can so effortlessly take a stage and make it their own. When something like Peelander-Z falls into your lap, it's your responsibility to take advantage of a good thing.
Peelander-Z, all ages, w/ Actionesse, Dead Bars, the Hop Monsters, Wednesday, April 5, $10 ADV, $13 DOS, Real Art, 5412 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, realarttacoma.com