Peelander-Z / the Phenomenauts - live in New York (Cover Artwork)

Peelander-Z / the Phenomenauts

live in New York (2005)

live show

I have not had so much fun at a show since the Phenomenauts, Epoxies, Aquabats tour earlier this year.

Now, the main reason I went to this show was for the Phenomenauts. Since seeing them at the aforementioned show, they've quickly become one of my favorite bands. They put on one of the best shows around, and they're all just really nice, talented guys. I'd never heard of any of these other bands.

Out of the four bands on the show's bill, the Phenomenauts were the only American band. The Emeralds, Portugal Japan, and Peelander-Z are all from Japan. I really didn't know what to expect from any of these guys.

The show was set to start at 11pm. I arrived at the venue with my friends at about 20 after, in the midst of the Emeralds' set. These guys were really good. I don't know how I'd describe their sound, I guess they were sort of a punkified rock‘n'roll band. They were all fantastic at their instruments, and their lead singer had a pretty cool voice. They were catchy and enjoyable, and I picked up one of their EPs afterwards.

Next up was Portugal Japan. After the Phenomenauts, I'd put these guys as the next best band at the show. They were a very Ramones-influenced punk trio, all girls. They were really awesome, but I just couldn't help thinking how ADORABLE they were! The lead singer/guitarist was this little Japanese girl with a Johnny Ramone haircut, and every time she'd start rocking out her hair would just go everywhere and it was just the cutest thing ever. They were really fucking good -- super catchy, great musicians. The bassist and guitarist were both rocking out next to me for the Phenomenauts' set; they were pretty funny.

Ahhh, the Phenomenauts. These guys just put on one hell of a show. From the beginning to the end of their set, they had the audience in the palm of their hand. They were just incredible. They played all my favorite songs (except "Welcome Back" and "Tiny Robots," but oh well), and did the usual crazy shit -- toilet paper gun, Earth beach ball, etc. It was just a lot of fun, all around. Their energy was unmatched by any other band that night, they were super tight, and just so much fun. I managed to grab a set list (written on the back of a torn piece of a six-pack case of Samuel Adams, of course), which I'll post at the end of the review.

Soon after the Phenomenauts finished, Peelander-Z took the stage. I don't know where to begin with these guys. I guess the best way to describe them would be this: Think of those crazy Japanese TV programs, with people in costumes singing strange songs in Japanese and dancing around. Add heavily accented incomprehensible English screaming, a firm punk sound, more costumes, 20 people on stage hitting pans with drumsticks, and a lead singer talking about his small penis and lack of front teeth, and you have Peelander-Z. They were CRAZY, but a lot of fun. At one point in the show the crowd split into two halves, opening a little "corridor" in the middle of the crowd, where they set up a bunch of bowling pins, and a couple of members of the band did human bowling. Of course, while this was going on, there were 20 people on stage, three of which who were playing the bands' instruments (including the guitarist of Portugal Japan, who jumped on stage and just rocked out like crazy for a good ten minutes). It was pretty nuts, but a total blast.

So, overall, the show was a hilarious bundle of Japanese insanity mixed in with some space-age rockabilly. Quite an interesting combo, if I may say so myself. All the bands were great, and I got to chat with a few of the Phenomenauts afterwards -- really nice guys. If any of these bands are playing near you, I'd highly recommend going.

The Phenomenauts' set list:

  • Year 2000
  • I Am Robot
  • Phenomenator
  • Mission
  • Where Is the X-38?
  • Neptune City
  • Rocket Roll
  • Composite Synthesizer
  • Progress vs. Pettiness
  • Warp (I didn't recognize this song -- if anyone knows what it is, please lemme know)
  • Earth Is the Best
  • Galactic Pioneers