Against Me! / Peelander-Z – August @ The High Five (JMcQ)

I went directly to the Against Me! Shows site, and found out that they would be hitting up Columbus Ohio a few short days from that night. Calling up my buddy Shayne, we end up going up a few hours early just to make it in time for the opening band. Not having a concrete idea of where the venue was at (all we knew was that it was on High St in Columbus), we end up almost being forced into a Columbus Crew (the local soccer team) game due to all the near roads by the Ohio fair being blocked for whatever reason. Looking like total jackasses, we had to have the ticket-takers go and move five or six of those orange cones just for us to swing around our minivan. After taking this minor detour, we end up parking by a Starbucks and walking up and down High St. about three or four times. Slowly, something began to hit us : that there were three different shows happening that night. What use is there in promoting a cohesive scene when all the alternative kiddies are divided up by venue loyalty? And, as a poking of the Capitalist element that actually owns the venues, what about having shows on different nights? It would mean that the crowds of kids would be coming to one and only one venue, instead of everyone having a show on a Tuesday night or something.

Anyways, things start closing up because it is a Tuesday and Ohio State hasn’t started having classes yet. Walking back, I spot a Dance Dance Revolution machine in a Subway. After dragging Shayne into Subway, I screw around with the machine for five minutes, only to be told that the machine takes tokens. A bit of my youthful exuberance left me that night, as I couldn’t will myself to actually perform decently on the DDR machine. The song was easy and I could just tell myself that I was still too full of pizza, that I had big clunky combat books on, or a myriad of other excuses, but I just was not feeling that machine that night.

Getting to the venue (the High Five), I end up paying for Shayne and I’s tickets, or $17. A little less than I thought, but I was told that the original ticket price for anyone regardless of age was $6. In fact, the ticket prices were pretty much the only buzz that was happening in-between songs that night. The sheer amount of people that were packed into the bar was impressive, probably around 150 or so. Not many people that were floating around in the crowd really had anything of a clue who Peelander Z was, but the band would rapidly gain its own brand of recruits. Starting out with the crowd-intensive “S.T.E.A.K.”, which involved people answering “How do you want your steak” (ANS : Medium Well!), Peelander-Z had every pair of eyes firmly locked on their spandex-clad bodies. As their set progressed, a number of other crowd-participation placards came out, and they blasted through their Ramones-infused style of punk. Running through a chorus of “Jaico My Love”, which involved the crowd spelling out Jaico a la “YMCA”, Peelander Z would end their set in a blaze of fire.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some decent musicianship with Peelander Z. The simple fact is that their stage show is just so much farther out there than any I’ve ever seen, and words just need to be devoted to it. After getting kids from the audience to go up and play on bass, drums, and guitar, Peelander Red (Bass) and Peelander Blue (Drums) chased Peelander Yellow (Vocals, Guitar) around the venue, finally getting close enough to him to “knock him out”. Parting the crowd not unlike Moses parting the Red Sea, the two conscious members of Peelander Z proceeded to go use Yellow as a bowling ball, throwing him down the newly formed path. Eventually gaining enough control of the audience to finish up their set with one last song, they broke out the set of noisemakers, allowing about 25 of the audience to knock on cowbells, sticks, cymbals to the beat. When Peelander Z left and Against Me! was still setting up, one could feel the sheer amount of energy pulsating through the audience, eager for a place to go but without an outlet to be expending.

To make sure things are clear, I had no clue what any of the kids in Against Me! even looked like before the concert. One of the members was wearing a The ‘Tone shirt, which should have tipped me off for his status – The ‘Tone was on No Idea! records, where Against Me! released their seminal Reinventing Axl Rose. During the time that they set up for their set, Against Me! brought in no less than 50 more people who crowded in close to the act. At certain points, the crowd was 10 deep. The pit was hot and stinky unless one strategically positioned themselves underneath one of the a/c ducts, which had the added pitfall of dripping water on your head if you moved a little.

Against Me! ended up playing a number of tracks off of Reinventing Axl Rose, no big surprise there, and actually began their set with “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”. Busting through a number of other tracks, I was enlightened about how few of their tracks I actually could put words to, much less know. The level of the vocals during Against Me’s! set, beginning as a minor problem during Peelander-Z’s set, really became unacceptable. The vocals kept mixing in with the guitars, rendering some songs virtually unrecognizable at points, even to a greenhorn like me. Apparently the problem with the sound is a problem endemic to the venue, instead of just being present at the show.

After blasting through “Walking is Still Honest”, a number of individuals throughout the crowd started trying to persuade Against Me! to play “Burn”, while I was shouting for them to play “8 Full Hours of Sleep”. I guess I just wasn’t obnoxious enough to merit an explanation why they wouldn’t play a song (apparently, the song is too far past and they’ve progressed from it). Still, Against Me! was cool enough to blast through an encore, so everything worked out well. After they started packing up, I walked around trying to get my Crime EP signed by the band (which didn’t work all that well). One cool thing did come out of it, where Warren (the drummer) and I talked for about ten minutes about various other cool acts, including 1905, World Inferno/Friendship Society, and The Devil is Electric. Other bandmates were captured by other dorks like me, so I only really got half of the band’s signatures.

Against Me! is releasing an album on November 4th, currently titled “…as the eternal cowboy”, on Fat Wreck Chords. Peelander-Z released their latest album, “P-Bone Steak”, July 15th on Swell Records. E-mail Against Me at againstme@hotmail.com , Peelander-Z at yumyum@peelander-z.com , and they can be approached at www.againstme.net and www.peelander-z.com .

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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