Peaches

[26 May 2004]

By Terry Sawyer


Peaches
Photo credit: Lynne Porterfield

Once you work in a porn store with someone, you’re bonded for life. It’s the common experience of shuddering inhumanity that comes from having to explain to another person that it’s best if they don’t return their videos with bodily fluids on them. Even though my friend Jason and I have little in common on the surface (he’s a club kid romantic trapped in the body of an underwear model), we bond over our service in the xxx gutter and the fact that we both like our cocktails to taste as close to airplane fuel as possible. I was hoping Peaches would offer a musical bridge in our tastes in that way that bottoms out dance beats but isn’t afraid to whip out a guitar and terrorize the crowd with nothing but a beat thump and slashing storm of riffs.

I’d like to formally rescind my iffy review of Fatherfucker, which I found hopelessly trashy when I first heard it, an electroclash stripper pole of an album whose beats sounded painfully tinny and crumpled. The live set offered me a wholly different perspective, with her vocals edged in snapped power line volatility and the thundercracking beats opening my eyes to what a raw, naked, rock and roll rioter Peaches can be. Watching the record get played out live, I could feel how well Peaches can strip punk and hip hop down to this quivering core of threatening libido, a performance that manages to be enticing, repelling and hilarious without the slightest hint of avant-garde affectation. Peaches is nuclear badass-osity and I fully plan on listening to Fatherfucker in my car at night and asking random strangers if I can “pack their crack”.

After hearing her perform “Back It Up, Boys”, I’ve decided I’d like to dedicate it to all religious fundamentalists in the world since I think it has the best lyrical response to repression ever written. Imagine blue state billboards emblazoned with “take a sabbatical from your radical fanatical battles, sit on the saddle, and let it rattle, rattle, rattle.” Watching Peaches live, you get a sense that she’s trying to pry us away from our hang-ups by eroticizing what discomfits us as well as by making audience members laugh at the high drama and intensity we invest in gender roles and picking holes. Her buxom bearded back-up dancers flop around in strap-on cocks while simulating sex acts or flinging their dildos down for Peaches to deepthroat. Peaches announces to the audience that she likes “pussies, butts, and dicks” and it’s impossible not to want to applaud for someone polymorphously perverse who wouldn’t dream of hemming and hawing about it.

Peaches’ territorially huge stage presence is sexually feral, the kind of pussy power that’s indifferent to other’s people’s desires, a stark contrast to the personae of people like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera who traffic in the poses of the “innocent whore”, a fantasy tailor made for the American male’s judgmental sleaziness. In the way that she claims her space on stage, you get every sense that her eroticism is wholly owned by her. In fact when someone called her a “slut” in the front row, she spent much of the show glowering at them, kicking her leg inches from their face, and making menacing asides between songs. Whoever that fucker was, I have no doubt he spent the rest of the show wondering if he was going to be garroted by the mic cord.

It’s a feat unto itself to be able to entertain a packed capacity crowd with just the energy of yourself and the mixed opportunity of a stage. Of course, it didn’t hurt to have her boogie dancers juicing up the periphery on some of the numbers, but Peaches held her own on many songs without them, projecting her ferocity through the room like blasts of radiation. She bounced off speakers, climbed up to the rafters, ripped off her clothes and for one number, even allowed herself to be elaborately tied up. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, in awe of just how much removed she seemed from my own recurrent cowardice in the face of what “the others” might think. If this whole music thing doesn’t pan out, I see a healthy future in despotism for her, should she decide to give in to the dark arts and use her cult of personality to enslave docile populaces.

For the “Fuck the Pain Away” finale, Peaches opened up the task of performing to stage-horny audience members and the result was an American Idol orgy that had me spilling my beer because I couldn’t stop laughing. Peaches has everything you could possibly want in going out to see a rock show: fuck all transgressiveness, ass jiggling, unkempt sexual energy and music so tight and powerhoused that even the most shy among you won’t be able to resist the pelvic twitching salvos that make up the musical mantras in the teaches of Peaches.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/peaches-040423/