Peelander-Z at the Turf, 4/15/11

Categories: Last Night

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Photos by Erik Hess
Anamanaguchi
Peelander-Z (with Birthday Suits and Anamanaguchi)
April 15, 2011
Turf Club

Don't you hate a schtick? (Stay with me, here.)

This was my thought en route to see New York band Anamanaguchi open for New York band Peelander-Z at the Turf Club Friday night (Birthday Suits also appeared). Don't you hate a schtick? Don't you really hate that now passé obsession with outdated gaming technologies: dude and his buddy dressing like Mario and Luigi for Halloween, pixelated everything, and bleepy-bloopy video game sounds? I read, before heading for the Turf, that Anamanaguchi "is a chiptune punk band from New York City that 'makes loud, fast music with a hacked NES from 1985'" (Courtesy of Anamanaguchi's website, by way of Wikipedia). Groan, right?

Au contraire, mon so-above-it-all music critic. Anamanaguchi took their chiptune punk from New York City, loud, fast and hacked from NES circa 1985 and overlaid that basic infrastructure with perfectly melodic pop rock. Clean, straightforward, and oddly compelling. God, it's just so...enjoyable.

Isn't that the best feeling -- going into an experience as a hater and then having to step back and go, "man, that was really...nice." To be fair, this assessment didn't last the entire set; 20 minutes in, and the schtick was starting to feel a little overdone. But by the end of Anamanaguchi's set, the crowd called out for more -- a rarity for an opening band at the Turf. People were digging on Anamanaguchi, and I, frankly, can't blame them.

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Photos by Erik Hess
Next up, our own Birthday Suits. Birthday Suits were like the salami in the sandwich Friday night. Not salami; I hate salami. The prosciutto. The roast beef. The roast beef with horseradish, onions, mushrooms and Swiss. They tasted just right in the middle of the night's show. Not that I want to know what Matthew and Hideo taste like; they look sweaty. Probably like onions and Swiss? Anyway, they felt just right between the upbeat pop of Anamanaguchi and the total ruckus of Peelander-Z, and if you haven't heard them yet, you're missing out on one of the Twin Cities' best (a problem easily remedied; they've been around for a good long time, and will with any luck be around a good time longer).

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Photos by Erik Hess
So when I was a kid, my boyfriend and I used to play a game involving VHS tapes that featured gratuitous and unnecessary sexual content, usually just a scene flashing boobs -- we had Blockbuster to work with in my hometown. I'm not going into detail here, but it was through this folly of small-town youth that I came to rent the "Rowdy" Roddy Piper film (film, ha!) Hell Comes to Frogtown.

Long personal narrative that only has potential to get longer aside: Peelander-Z would have been the house band at the club owned by the Frog King, singing a song about "So Many Mike" in the club as "Rowdy" Roddy rescued the leader of the militant lesbian tribe from a Princess Leia-type situation in the Frog King's secret room.

In case you haven't seen this gem, trust me: this is high praise. These guys are weird and they rock. The important thing here: with the costumery, the audience participation percussion, the mad exercise routines, the youthful singalongs, the sea monster antics and limbo lines -- none of this nonsense would work without full engagement of the audience. And oh, Peelander-Z has it in spades. What does that idiom mean, anyway? They have it in spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds. It's cult-like, but without the Drink the Kool-Aid white Nikes creep factor. I imagine this is what it was like to see the Beatles on their first U.S. tour, the audience is that jazzed. Peelander-Z has somehow mastered the art of in-your-face without ever resorting to total obnoxiousness.

Check it, Monotonix.

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Photos by Erik Hess
Critic's bias:

The crowd: NERDS! I don't think I've seen such an awesome assemblage of nerds in this space since...well since the Beard Off all of three weeks ago.
Overheard in the crowd: (pointing to Peelander Red's ass) "Look at the tush on that guy." - My boyfriend (after he caught me looking)

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Photos by Erik Hess


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Erik Hess
Erik Hess

Yes, there were nerds. And yes, there were crowd-surfing nerds. I would've been one of them if I wasn't swinging fifteen pounds of camera gear around.

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