Peelander Z and the Defiance of SF Audience Stereotypes

I didn’t have my arms folded, not once.

And MH, despite accepting a better offer to feast at The House of Prime Rib after work, made it to The DNA Lounge in time for the second half of the Zoopy Monsters set, and all of the insanity that is Peelander Z.

It helped that DH sent the above photo to MH in response to his “I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it” text.

Zoopy Monsters are my new favorite classic rock cover band
Zoopy Monsters are my new favorite classic rock cover band
For whatever reason, San Francisco audiences have had this reputation, for years now, as being passive and too-cool-for school. I’ll never forget getting a lecture from Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist at Slim’s in 2003.

“San Francisco, you always stand there like this.” He cocked his hips and looked sidelong at the crowd, “and have your arms like this.” He folded his arms.

I thought, “Shut up. We do not.” I was half-scowling at the stage and my arms were folded.

FullSizeRender (2)The fair-or-not assessment remained with me for years, but it soon became apparent that this phenomenon was not unique to the City. In clubs from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. I observed a healthy percentage of audience members who didn’t dance when asked to; didn’t respond “hop!” to the called “hip!”; and generally just stood there, with maybe a minimal amount of head-nodding and leg-shaking. I understand: bands want us to show more enthusiasm. And the drunker I get, the easier it is to jump around. But I’ve been to plenty of shows – even recently – in which the requests for more participation fell on deaf ears. Or, on non deaf ears, I suppose. That gawdawful band that opened for SALES a few weeks ago, for example. The one that kept insisting that we “party!” but then droned away on the synths like angry pirates? No partying. No thank you.

IMG_2400During their set, one of the Zoopy Monsters singers lauded the energy of several audience members. It was building. And whether Peelander Z needed the crowd-warming or not, the packed crowd in the loft space above DNA Lounge really started to get into it.

And, of course, just like my first experience with these Japanese superhuman punk-rockers, within minutes of the opening song everyone in the audience was slicing the air in Z-formation.

I know it’s a small sample size. And my general experience has been that the folks cramming into DNA for 8BitSF shows and the like are much more about the party than the scene. As MH put it, after he had been drawn into a raucous “Mad Tiger” pit: “This went from zero to mosh faster than I’d ever seen.”

I wish that pompous Swede could see San Francisco now. We are all Peelander-Z, after all. And we jump around like this.

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