Do you remember when rock shows were fun? It’s been a while, but after last night, I think I remember now. Though New Orleans is no stranger to the concept – with her plethora of elevator-jazz-funk-fusion bands with charismatic horn players that have been a staple in the local music scene for decades – it has never been quite the same story for rock or punk (outside of the occasional schticky Kenner cover band.)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the fun to be had from jumping a blond sorority girl to the front of the line at the Cut Copy concert, witnessing the craziest light show this side of Ghostland Observatory and catching a drumstick thrown into the crowd by one of the band’s multiple percussionists. While fantastic in its own right, I am instead talking about elaborate costumes, a crowd of sweaty kinds moshing around, and someone playing an Ibanez RG-270 with a Floyd Rose bridge: Musical performances that are wild for the sheer sake of going wild.
On Tuesday, April 26, concertgoers at One Eyed Jacks were treated to such a rock show, where high-energy Japan-by-way-of Brooklyn absurdist punk band Peelander-Z made its second stop in the city in as many years, joined by a supporting cast equally as wild and energetic. Openers the Local Skank, a New Orleanean all-girl-and-one-guy third wave ska band, took the stage with kick drum mic’ed to the high heavens and the bass amp turned up to eleven. With the rhythm section practically shaking the entire venue, the group’s leads – face-painted and Hot Topic-costumed – worked the crowd with a playful tongue-in-cheek horrorcore send-up of rock n’ roll femininity (House of a Thousand Tina Weymouths?) that included teaching audience members how to skank, stopping their set for a round of shots, and encouraging the crowd to yell “fuck” as loud as possible.
Anamanaguchi, the New York chiptune punk band known for their use of a Nintendo and a Game Boy in their music has been an enigma to me since I first became familiar with them a few months ago. I’ve been thoroughly unable to discern whether they rig up video game consoles to work as some sort of pedal system for their two guitarists, whether they have some sort of instrument-triggered conductor system a la the UK’s Johnny Foreigner, or whether there is someone behind the boards simply orchestrating the whole thing.
The truth, as it turns out, is more painstakingly arduous – and substantially less glamorous – than you’d imagine: game consoles are set up at stage right, pre-programmed with previously composed and encoded 8-bit soundscapes. After bassist James DeVito starts the elaborately wired system, everyone starts playing lightning-fast live instruments ‘till their dicks fall off, with no way to turn back once each song begins. Though obviously primitive in approach, Anamanaguchi’s live setup was undeniably unique – the ultimate keep-up-with-the-computer kind of video gaming experience for the band, and an absolute thrill for the audience to observe.
Peelander-Z, as anticipated, took the energy level set by Skank and Guchi and blew it to pieces with one of the most hilariously bizarre stage performances you will ever see at a rock show. After passing out handheld cymbals to the audience for pandemonious effect, drummer Peelander-Green ceaselessly thrashed his set while bassist Peelander-Red was either hanging upside-down from the venue’s balcony or running around the crowd in a large foam costume reminiscent of something you’d see on Yo Gabba Gabba. The seemingly-delicate Peelander-Pink turned out to be anything but, spending equal time as the hyper Miss Pussycat to leader Peelander-Yellow’s Quintron and as the whistleblowing crowd conductor, regularly moving audience members around for antics like human bowling. After running through an hour of fast-paced, barely intelligible Japanese punk, Peelanders-Yellow and Red climbed the massive PA for a finale-signifying fifteen-foot jump to the floor. With that, the dripping hot audience of One Eyed Jacks was suddenly hit with the nostalgia of what it feels like to adolescently jump around a room for three hours without stopping.