Eclectic stayed true to its name last Friday night, hosting an evening of acts by performers as diverse as a Japanese punk-rock band, a human bowling ball, and the cabaret-esque musical duo, The Dresden Dolls. Even the Middetown Fire Dept. made an appearance.
The evening began at 10 p.m., when students started milling around Eclectic’s smoky interior, cigars and cigarettes in hand. By 11, everyone was crowded into Eclectic’s ballroom, as three elaborately costumed men, who form the self-described “Japanese Noodle Samurai Punk Band,” Peelander-Z, burst from the back door of the ballroom and began rocking out on their guitars and drums.
Peelander-Z, consisting of lead guitarist and vocalist Kengoswee, bass guitarist and vocalist K.O., and drummer Antonio Kazuki, performed a 45-minute set of short, intense punk songs. During the set, the energetic Kengoswee dashed about the stage, jumped off a ladder, and addressed the audience with such quips as, “Me and your mother had a pretty pretty night.”
Energy pulsed through the ballroom during Peelander-Z’s performance as students gathered tightly together in the middle of the room in semi-mosh pit. One student crowd-surfed several times throughout the show while others banged drumsticks on plates and candlesticks supplied by the band.
When the fire alarm went off towards the end of Peelander-Z’s set, apparently due to a student setting off the fire extinguisher, both the band and the dancing students took several minutes to realize what was going on. Eventually everyone moved to the front yard of Eclectic. Peelander-Z mingled with the crowd while the Middletown Fire Dept.—the evening’s unexpected guest stars—inspected the building.
Even though their performance was over, Peelander-Z retained their on-stage personae when outside.
“These are not costumes. This is our skin. We are not human beings,” said Kengoswee when asked what the band’s jumbled mix of costume pieces—from rubber wigs to boas to an M&M Halloween outfit—were supposed to represent.
The unexpected interruption to the evening did not mitigate student excitement about Peelander-Z.
“They’re like the best thing I’ve ever seen…twice,” said Andrew Aylward ’07.
Peelander-Z put on another performance after the firemen left, which involved converting the Eclectic ballroom into a bowling alley and using Kengoswee as a human bowling ball. K.O. and Kazuki, having chased Kengoswee around the ballroom, managed to roll him down an aisle between the crowd of student—nd score a strike.
At 12:30, the second official act of the night, The Dresden Dolls began their performance. This Boston-based duo consists of pianist, vocalist and Wesleyan alum Amanda Palmer ’98 and drummer Brian Viglione. They have been voted “Best Band in Boston” by Boston Magazine and their debut album, “The Dresden Dolls,” was cited as one of Rolling Stone’s Critics Top Albums of 2003.
With their white face makeup and black-and-white attire, The Dresden Dolls have been likened to the cabaret musicians of Weimar-era Germany. Their slow, deep sound and intimate style instilled a mellow atmosphere into the Eclectic ballroom. Many students sat down on the floor to listen to the music.
The Dresden Dolls opened with “Good Day” and continued with other songs off their debut album, such as the darkly comic “Coin-Operated Boy.” Palmer and Viglione were completely absorbed in the music as they performed, pounding on keyboard and drums respectively, often gazing sensuously at each other as they played.
Palmer addressed the audience occasionally between songs.
“The fire was our fault. Sorry. We were getting it on upstairs,” she said.
After a few songs, Viglione left his drum set and Palmer began a solo performance.
“How many people had a bad time at college?” she asked the audience.
“I relate to you,” she said, pointing to one of the few people who cheered.
Palmer, who lived in Eclectic for two years while at Wesleyan, played two songs she wrote during her time here, songs she described as “bad” and “Wesleyan-specific.”
“[These songs were] never heard before and hopefully [will be] never heard again,” she said.
The first song, a slow melodic piece titled “Valentine’s,” describes an unhappy college girl the morning after a party.
“Everyone on Valentine’s gets drunk enough to kiss her / Tonight she will be satisfied with something if it kills her / But nothing’s left except the stench and bottles in the hall […] She swears she won’t get up until she feels like she’s a real live college girl,” sang Palmer.
Her second song parodied the “Wesleyan Fight Song.”
“The night old Wesleyan went up in flames I joined an Afro-Jewish / Vegetable Cooperative and truly mastered hackey-sack […] And it’s fight fight fight for old Wesleyan / Now you see your world undone / And I have stayed until the bitter end / You can take your bulletinbroadcastreviews and shove them up your ass because I WON,” she sang.
Both songs received loud cheering and applause from the audience.
Viglione returned for a couple more songs, including their last one, in which he played acoustic guitar and Palmer stood up to sing.
Palmer said it was unfortunate that the fire alarm cut short their set, but she appreciated the enthusiastic response from the audience during their performance. She expressed ambivalence, however, about being back at Wesleyan.
“Being back at Eclectic always creeps me out,” she said. “I didn’t feel I fit there back then and I still feel that way, as if I am still hoping that the kids there will think I’m neat and groovy. My insecurity was at a peak at Wesleyan, being around there always reminds me how isolated and weird I felt. And sweet Jesus, the GOTE room in Eclectic just NEVER gets cleaned, I recognized dirt in there from seven years ago.”