Friday, December 26; Creepy Crawl

Japan is like America, only more so. We have a strong Puritan streak running through us; they have a tradition of gutting themselves when they mess up. We make ephemeral pop culture an art; they make it a religion.

Take, for instance, Peelander-Z: three guys, three chords, ten thousand cultural references. Like the Ramones filtered through Voltron, the band members are named Peelander Red, Peelander Blue and Peelander Yellow. The Ramones label fits the music as well; it draws from the same everlasting well of rock simplicity that has been feeding garage bands forever.

But that's the only damn thing Peelander does that could be considered simple. The guys call themselves "the Japanese Noodle Samurai Punk Band," and they mean it, whatever it means. Peelander live shows are more than interactive, more than just energetic. They engage their audience with that classic call and response: "How do you like your steak? Medium well!" They invite audience members up on stage to take over the instruments so that Red and Blue can use Yellow as a bowling ball. There are kung-fu theatrics. It feels like the whole place could go up in flames. Heck, don't be surprised if aliens come marching into the bar, dressed in drag and wanting to join in the fun -- like Peelander-Z, they're travelers from another world who have been watching our cable and want to play too.

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