Review: Peelander-Z at Radio Radio

PZwebsitephoto

I first saw Peelander-Z at Riot Fest Chicago in 2013. My friend had heard about them and thought it sounded like they would be fun. Well, that’s a huge understatement. If you can’t have fun at a Peelander-Z show, you’re probably the kind of person who would rather stay home and sort socks. In fact, we loved their Riot Fest set so much we skipped the headliner and caught their after-show at a small club later that night. I knew I was in for a treat on this cold November night.

So for the uninitiated, let’s back up a bit. What do we know about Peelander-Z, besides the fact that they are awesome? According to their website, they come from the planet Peelander. The members present Friday night were Peelander Yellow, Peelander Pink and Peelander Green. I’ve seen Peelander Purple before but he wasn’t around Friday night.

The band is heavy on audience participation, even though they apparently don’t speak English too well (they are from a different planet, after all). This means they rely heavily on sheer energy, limited lyrics and gestures to communicate what they want the audience to do next.

The general flow of a Peelander-Z show is they will introduce a song by chanting the a few times so the audience gets it, then they will do some crazy stuff and finally, launch into the song. The crazy stuff can include stage diving while the other band members play, climbing on someone’s shoulders to sing at an extended microphone, pulling random audience members on stage to play their instruments, or coming down from the stage to lead the audience in a limbo contest, like Peelander Yellow is preparing to do here:

The show Friday night was a lot of fun. It was one of the first really cold nights, so the crowd wasn’t too large but the people who were in attendance were very enthusiastic. That said, it can be harder to coordinate a smaller crowd than a larger one, especially when many were seeing Peelander-Z for the first time. This meant Peelander Yellow took more time trying to communicate to people what he wanted them to do but he ultimately got his point across. They sure seemed like they were working hard, whereas the previous shows I saw they were able to relax more and enjoy a crowd that knew where Peelander-Z was taking them.

If you ever get the chance to see Peelander-Z, don’t miss them. It might look a bit insane (it is) but if you just enjoy the mayhem it will possibly be the most fun you will ever have at a show.

Advertisements

Show Review: Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas were one of the highlights of Riot Fest 2014 for me. They played on the smaller stage and I thought they were terrific. When I heard they were opening for St. Paul and the Broken Bones on Halloween night, I was sold.

JH Deltas

JH came out in a skirt and some amazing checkerboard tights, complimented by tin foil antennae. The rest of her band were also each wearing dresses. Of course, every other member of the band is male, but it’s Halloween and they didn’t have time to find costumes, according to JH.

JH is a terrific performer and has a powerhouse voice. She also knows how to have fun on stage and even gave a shout out to the Chris Farley costume, which probably was the best of the night. They played a terrific set, then got out of the way, which is what you want an opener to do.

I didn’t really know what to expect from St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I was really there to see JH and SPBB were a bit of a bonus in my mind. Not so for the crowd, though. The Vogue was sold out and it was clear they were thrilled to see this band.

Several older folks were in the audience also, surprisingly. By older, I mean people in their sixties or seventies. One older gentleman got really drunk and fell into the tables in the balcony towards the end of the night. He seemed ok but that old guy probably had a bad day on Saturday.

SPBB were also a terrific live band. They all wore costumes also, with the lead singer wearing some Heath Ledger Joker-style makeup. They were high energy and tight throughout. The bonus for me: Radiohead and David Bowie covers. Nice!

Some bands just know how to perform live. Indianapolis was lucky to have two bands play The Vogue on Halloween that really understand how to play a crowd.

Next up: Peelander Z at Radio Radio on November 14! Can’t wait for this one. If you like to have fun, this is a can’t-miss show. See you there!

Riot Fest Chicago Review

Riot Fest 2013 was a terrific experience. The VIP sections were great and provided clear sight-lines of the stages, the crowds were full but manageable, the layout really worked well and the performances were legendary. I discovered Surfer Blood and achieved a lifelong dream of seeing the Replacements. Rancid was everything I had hoped they would be live and the weekend was packed with other amazing sets.

So I really looked forward to 2014. There wasn’t anyone on the schedule that matched the Replacements, but really, who could? I was looking forward to Social Distortion, The Hold Steady, Jane’s Addiction, Wu-Tang Clan and Metric, among others. Just as much, I was looking forward to discovering some new bands I hadn’t heard before.

So how was Riot Fest 2014? Well, it was ok. Friday was just awful. Freezing cold, lots of rain, and a confusing layout made it difficult to get around. While many of the problems would have been significantly improved with better weather, the festival organizers didn’t help much. The whole park was a giant mudpit and paved walkways were actually fenced off for some strange reason.¬†That said, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears got the festival off to a strong start.

Friday

  • Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
  • Stiff Little Fingers
  • Gwar
  • The Hotelier
  • The Offspring
  • Jane’s Addiction

As I said, Friday was just miserable in every way. The Hotelier were good. The Offspring and Jane’s Addiction both sounded very good, although we were nowhere close for either, stuck in a crowded mess.

Saturday

  • The Pizza Underground
  • The Picturebooks
  • The Orwells
  • Buzzcocks
  • Television
  • Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas
  • Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • Metric
  • Flaming Lips
  • The National

Saturday was easily my favorite day. Although it was still terribly muddy, I was dressed better for the conditions and the bands were better, too. The Picturebooks were probably the surprise of the festival for me. I loved their set. A bucket-list performance from Television, while not life-changing, was enjoyable to see. Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas were perhaps my favorite performance of the whole weekend. Metric reminded me why I am still in love with Emily Haines. I had the best location I’ve ever had for The National and they were terrific, as always.

Sunday

  • Chumped
  • Laura Stevenson
  • Front Bottoms
  • Team Spirit
  • The Hold Steady
  • Andrew W.K.
  • Naked Raygun
  • Modern Baseball
  • Social Distortion
  • Primus
  • Weezer

Sunday was a little uneven in terms of catching terrific bands. I had missed The Hold Steady recently in Indy and desperately wanted to see them. They were easily my favorite set of the day, in large part because they played most of ‘Boys and Girls in America‘. Andrew W.K., not surprisingly, still likes to party. Naked Raygun played a terrific set, marred only by the aging losers who insisted on filming themselves with their Iphones while moshing.

All in all, it was a decent weekend, although not nearly up to the standards of 2013. The VIP tickets, which helped make last year so awesome, were a complete ripoff this year. The layout seemed poorly designed, crowd control and waste management was almost nonexistent, and the mud was horrendous. The weather and mud I can deal with but I hope the organizers address some issues. I’m on the fence about returning so we’ll see what happens next year.