Best of SXSW 2016: Peelander-Z
I long ago lost track of how many albums Peelander-Z have put out, or even who’s in the band outside of founder/vocalist/guitarist Kengo Hioki (aka Peelander Yellow). Gone is Peelander Red, who I once watched scale the tent and hang from the rafters of the upper deck at The Mohawk’s outside stage. Peelander Pink — and her human bowling ball routine — was absent at this show, although Facebook tells me she’s still in the band. But does it really matter? Peelander Z still kick out horribly played but masterfully written punk jams with every bit as much energy and Japanese humor as they did 15 years ago, and they’re a SXSW mainstay good for 40 minutes of headbanging, fist-pumping, audience shoutalongs and laughs.
Classics like “Steak” and “Mad Tiger” are still the highlights of any Peelander-Z set, with hand-drawn cue cards shown to the audience at the appropriate times, impromptu instrument switches, songs that end abruptly for no reason and, as always, members of the crowd invited up on stage to jam. It’s the crowd interaction, and the band’s self-referential sense of ironic humor — led by Peelander Yellow and his frazzled, outrageous, bleached-blonde skullet — that make Peelander-Z a true national treasure (by way of Japan). They’re a band that everyone should see once… if not several times in life. It’s impossible not to have a blast. Watch below for a taste. Upcoming tour dates here.