It was one of those nights that happens about once a month where I wanted to clone myself and attend multiple shows: Cannibal Corpse at The Warfield, Norma Jean at Slim’s, and Peaches at The Regency Ballroom. I chose the least likely show, Peaches.
It was one of the increasingly rare nights where The Hipsters and I cross paths. The metal and industrial shows are increasingly becoming home to me, but I make no apologies for my eclectic tastes. And, Peaches and I go back a while.
The first time I saw her was in 2004 at Emo’s in Austin. I had never seen a show like this in my life- up until this point I’d been to some large, high production shows, and small, no production shows….but never something that was such a multisensory show in a smallish venue like this (it’s a 1000 capacity venue). There were dancers, costume changes, props, and her duo with Iggy Pop on ‘Kick It’ was performed with Iggy projected lifesize on a white screen right next to her. But mainly, it was the most ‘controversial’ show I had ever seen at that point: there was nudity, strap ons, and she spit ‘blood’ on the crowd at the end. I liked the way being at this show made me feel, and I never turned back after that.
I found an old review of that show here.
The next time I saw Peaches would be opening for Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails on the last day of the near two year long With Teeth tour. It was still light outside when she performed. The show was definitely toned down for a large crowd, so while I was excited that she was part of this amazing bill, I was a bit worried that she had lost her edge. The next couple of times that she came through town, I always had a conflict; so tonight I was finally going to see if Peaches could live up to that first show again.
Local band Wallpaper was on stage when I arrived. At first, I rolled my eyes at the auto-tuned disco beats. But then I realized they are more making fun of today’s hip hop than anything. Their songs are pretty funny, and I’ll admit that most of them are catchy, but what really made the set a non-failure for me was the live drums. If they had just employed a drum machine I would have written it off. I’m a sucker for bands that go back to basics with the simpler hip hop beats, and they do that well. Plus, their cover of Bel Biv DeVoe’s ‘Poison’ was fun. That song never gets old.
The stage was set for Amanda Blank– 2 DJs on either side, and a small drum set in the middle. The DJs come out and start spinning, shortly followed by the drummer. And they played for about 10 minutes just like this- I got to a point where I thought she just might not be coming out. But then she ran out to the front of the stage, wearing a short hooded cape and not much else. She lost the hood after a song, revealing a skimpy yet somehow tasteful romper outfit with fringe on one ankle and the opposite arm. And she surprisingly pulled off that outfit barefoot- without heels to create a skinnier than reality leg. It was gym inspiring. The group next to me knew every word to every song. Her electro dance rock is definitely Peaches-like in sound and sexually charged tone; but more girly. And she knows her crowd, at one point saying how she loves ‘all the homos out there’. At one point, she did something that can’t quite be described with her tongue, wiping her face off afterward and commenting that she now had ‘blow job face’. Wow. Her reimagining of the Romeo Void song ‘Never Say Never’ was a highlight, as was ‘A Love Song’.
“I need love….I’m a lady”
As soon as the Peaches set started, I knew a) she’s still got it, and b) we were in for an interesting evening. Three people in black shuffled out to the front of the stage, with their heads shrouded in black. They then split off to their spots as the drummer, keyboardist/guitarist, and bassist/keyboardist. And then out came Peaches, wearing some large black piece that sat up on her shoulders and went above her head, her face completely shrouded in black. It immediately made me think of Lady Gaga, which is a sad, sad thing. It was an impressive thing to witness- and unlike Gaga, Peaches has the music to back it up.
The first part of the set was almost entirely her new album, which I’m not familiar with yet. After losing the black head casing, she was joined by two women in black lingerie and huge blonde wigs, who twirled around dancing without being able to see. They had to be escorted on and off the stage.
Peaches’ assistant walks out with a white cloth, which he unfolds in front of him so that the guest on the next track, ‘Billionaire’ featuring Shunda K, can be projected life size next to Peaches, just like I remembered seeing Iggy Pop in her first show. It’s still a cool effect to this day.
It was already apparent at this point that Peaches’ assistant is one of the hardest working stage hands- she is VERY demanding of him. He hopped down to the photo pit to assist her for her traditional walk down the barricade, and then she crowdsurfed. This was followed by her telling everyone to stop tweeting and put their cameras away (YES, MA’AM!), for she was going to do something only for those here. “Jesus walked on water…Peaches can walk on you”. So she had everyone hold up their hands, and she walked on the crowd. Soon after she began that precarious trek, I could here her go, “YOU FUCKING PERV!”, and I knew exactly what happened. But she completed the song, and her walk on the crowd, as security ran over and dragged some guy out of the crowd, out the back door, and presumably out to the end of his evening, where he probably awoke this morning sore from having his ass kicked for being a perv.
When Peaches completed her walk, she got back on stage and addressed the crowd. “That only happens like once every 100 shows…and some PERV had to ruin it by trying to put his fingers in my ginch”. Yes, she called it a ginch, like in her song ‘The Inch’. “It’s a consensual thing!” While I felt bad for her, there was something humorous in having Peaches call some guy a perv- and she handled it well, even dedicating the next song to “The Perv”.
It seemed like she injured her thumb at some point during all of that, because the assistant kept bringing her towels, set out an ice bath by her water, and even taped her up while she was singing. ‘Shake Yer Dix’ was the first old song to pop up, which I LOVE, but then that was near ruined when a huge fight broke out behind me. And somehow, all security had disappeared. So the fight went on for a while until we had to get one of the photographers to run and locate security. It was kind of ridiculous.
The next song utilized a green laser and the guitarist and bassist on keytars that lit up neon green as well. At one point in the song, Peaches sticks her hand in front of the laser and it bounces back all over her in an interesting effect.
Then, she employed this light saber device, which she stroked to the beat of the music. She was joined by Amanda Blank for this song. Afterwards, she told the crowd that she is actually playing the light saber, telling us that she’s read many reviews that didn’t believe it actually did anything. So she had all the musicians hold their hands in the air while she played it- and here you go; a review that can definitively say that Peaches plays a light saber during her set.
At this point, she started delving into her back catalog, playing almost all of my old favorites: ‘Boys Wanna Be Her’, ‘Fuck the Pain Away’, and ‘Operate’. She sprayed a bottle of champagne all over the front at one point. She came out wearing a towel wrapped on her head and around her, and during certain parts of the song, she’d open the towel and she was projected on the sides singing parts of the song. She donned a gold hooded cape and performed in front of a fan with a blinking crotch light. ‘Kick It’ was performed with her bassist wearing an Iggy-like wig trying to imitate his moves while singing his part (and when his wig fell off, Peaches put it on and they switched roles).
And then someone threw a bra on stage:
At the very end, a mock fight broke out in the band, and I thought she was going to end the show by spitting blood on the crowd like she used to do, but I’m not quite sure what it was:
At this point, a group of people wearing very little pushed there way around me, and Peaches asked everyone to take their shirts off. “Come on, San Fran-disco! Portland did it!” Nothing like a little peer pressure. When everyone started removing their clothing, I bailed to the back. And as soon as everyone around me got half naked, it was over. So I guess Peaches kind of served as foreplay for the rest of these people’s evenings.
While some of the eyebrow raising edginess of that first show of hers I saw are no longer a part of Peaches live (there aren’t any simulated sex acts or blatant gender bending antics going on), she still puts on a creative, entertaining show.
“What else in the teaches of peaches?”
1. Mud with Blade Runner intro by Vangelis
2. Talk To Me
5. Show Stopper
6. Shake Yer Dix
7. I U She/Tombstone mashup
9. Boys Wanna Be Her
10. You Love It
11. Lose You
12. I Feel Cream
13. Mommy Complex
14. Fuck the Pain Away
16. Slippery Dick
17. Take You On
18. Kick It
19. Rock ‘n’ Roll
20. Set It Off