The best-laid plans of mice and men are no match against SXSW. No matter how bad you want to see, say, Warpaint, who seem to be playing 4 shows a day here, eventually you'll decide to stop following your timetable and start just rolling with the flow. You can see them in Houston April 9 anyway so why wait in line two hours to see them here when 1,699 other bands are playing just down the street?
So, acting on a tip from a friend, Aftermath headed out to E. 6th St., where the day before we'd stood enamored at the Kill Rock Stars party, and found the tiny house known as the Typewriter Museum, a place littered with old bicycle wheels and tchotchkes, to see Peelander-Fest, headlined by a Japanese pop-punk band who've been mixing kawaii costumes with pro-wrestling references and broken English silliness for going on ten years.
From the front the place looked only halfway occupied, so we followed signs to the back yard to find that there was barely room to move or breathe for the mass of humanity. Funk/ska/jazz band Foot Patrol were working on their second set of the afternoon on the small stage while Peelander-Z set up their gear. We weren't sure what to make of Foot Patrol until their final song, a cover of Morris Day and the Time's "Jungle Love," the perfect crowd-pleaser just before Peelander-Z took the stage.
There's something to be said for a band that is not afraid of their audience. How anyone found the ability to move in such cramped conditions is beyond Aftermath, but pretty much everyone was dancing, singing along to the group's simple lyrics ("Ninja High School") with choreographed hand motions led by Peelander Yellow. Oh yeah, that's the other thing -- the band is color coordinated, even down to the giant foam squid costume and tiger mask the frontmen donned for "Mad Tiger." Several times throughout the show guitarist and bassist both lept into the crowd, point the direction they were hoping to be carried, until they ended up pulling down the Christmas lights string along the building's awnings.
There seemed to be a lot of kids at the show too, and it must have been pretty awesome to be one of the seven-year-olds who were pulled on stage, handed a stainless steel bowl and drumstick, and invited to dance around and play. During "Handsome," Peelander Yellow explained that the group were aliens from the Planet Peelander, where he was considered extremely handsome, and where all humans were ugly. He then flashed his toothless grin before diving into the crowd again.
So it's basically punk rock for all ages, and one of the funnest shows Aftermath has been to in years. Peelander Z is playing two shows today -- 4 p.m. at The Pedernales Lofts Courtyard, and 1 a.m. at Headhunters.
Across the street from the Typewriter Museum we hit the tail end of the free Mess with Texas showcase, Billy Bragg on stage in front of a large crowd in what felt more like a festival show than any we've been to so far. We were so far from the stage it was high impossible to see or hear anything. The MWTX lot is huge, the lines to the Portapotties and food vendors long, but when you're getting to see Yatch, Man Man, Frightened Rabbit and Billy Bragg all for free in the warmth of Texas spring, who's to complain?
The festival continues today with Smith Westerns, Japanther, Neon Indian, Andrew WK and GWAR as well as others, assuming the rain doesn't wash it out.