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IN PEELANDER-Z WE TRUST: MAKING MEANING OUT OF MEANINGLESSNESS

Credit: Charissa Che

BY CHARISSA CHE

Maybe it’s masochism. On April 10, Peelander-Z made a stop at Urban Lounge, and despite still-fresh memories from last year of being nearly trampled and getting stabbed in the face with a bass, I jumped at the opportunity to see them again.

Credit: Charissa Che

A few key differences between my first and latest Peelander-Z experiences should be noted, though: 1) the crowd was considerably bigger this time – a surprising turnout for a Monday – thus yielding greater audience participation and providing ample cushion for crowd divers and 2) the opening bands were actually good. I missed the first act but fortunately got there in time to see local acts 90s Television and Wicked Bears.

Credit: Charissa Che

The openers reaffirmed my belief that while many SLC local bands are run-of-the-mill noise-rock or incoherent, thrashy punk for affect’s sake, some are incredibly talented. It’s not often you see all-guy rock groups harmonizing, perhaps because there’s a stigma that to do so equals being “soft,” but both bands harmonized unabashedly, taking turns singing lead to boot. True to their motto, 90s Television indeed made everyone feel and act young again; they’re anthemic, breezy, and make you wax nostalgic about that hard-to-get high school crush.

Wicked Bears gave us low-frills punk a la early Green Day. A particular moment of genius came when frontman Casey Keele stopped mid-song to gripe about something he saw on Facebook: “Someone posted this picture of a crayon that was broken in half, and it said something about how even though it’s broken, it’s like, 2 crayons…and it was the dumbest thing I ever saw.” People laughed but otherwise seemed unsure how to react. Then the guys picked up where they left off.

Then, the headliners served up classics like “Ninja High Schooool” and “Mad Tiger DX,” shoved masks onto bystanders’ heads, handed out dented tins for people to hit, coerced everyone into a game of limbo, and potentially terrified newcomers. A Peelander-Z show is more than just that; it’s a multi-sensory, all-encompassing experience, whether you like it or not.

Why were we doing stretches? What do they mean when they keep chanting “So Many Mike”? Search as we might for contextual clues, there’s no point. As one attendee succinctly observed, “Their phrases are esoteric yet vague enough to suggest there’s a backstory to them, but there’s really not.”

And so, the words in each lyric stand side-by-side, eyeing each other awkwardly, until one of them finally says, “So…I guess we’re a sentence now?” In Peelander-Z we trust, to make meaning out of meaninglessness.

For more photos of the show, go here.

Charissa Che :Charissa Che hails from NYC and has been a journalist for over 12 years. She is a regular music contributor for Salt Lake Magazine. Additionally, she is a PhD candidate in Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Utah. She prides herself on following the best cat accounts on Instagram. Calicos preferred.