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Peaches At The Fonda Theatre, Friday August 12th 2022

Peaches
Peaches

“How many Peaches virgins do we have tonight?” asked Merrill Nisker after having performed for more than an hour. “Who has never seen a Peaches show? It’s okay, it’s okay to be a virgin!” Pointing to someone in the crowd, she added: “She didn’t know who I was… how is it now? Oh, I got a thumb up!” And why not give a thumb up to Peaches’ intense extravaganza of theatrical provocation? There was not a dull moment during her 2-hour show – that’s rather an understatement – and I don’t see how someone entering her universe for the first time could ever be disappointed. In Peaches’s world, everything is about sex and it’s a lot of fun.

Lil Mariko, an Asian-American rapper, opened the show with a short but electrifying and bold set. She was rapping with a sweet but aggressive voice which was suddenly transforming into a terrifying hardcore scream. Her set was a very peculiar blend of eardrum-brutalism, metal, hyper pop, and techno, and honestly quite intense. The lyrics were as dirty, graphic, and nasty as a Peaches crowd could have expected, but the surprise was obliviously to see this petite lady screeching terror over gentle beats.

Yesterday was the first of Peaches’s two shows at Los Angeles’ Fonda Theatre, two stops of “The Teaches of Peaches Anniversary Tour.” The album is already 20 years old, but I was surrounded by a lot of people in their early thirties, which suggests that the record has continued to touch a lot of lives, long after its release. In a world where abortion is back to its illegal days in many states, where the US Supreme court has never been more conservative, and where backward “Christian values” are trendy once again, we are in great need of Peaches’ pro-sex artsy performance.

The inflammatory show was a series of theatrics with numerous wardrobe changes and diverse acrobatics. Peaches was at the center of every scene but surrounded by a superb band whose every gender fluid member followed her everywhere in her folie. Everyone was naked on stage (or wearing very little), but more than plain erotism, humor, and absurd dominated the mood of the show. She took the stage using a walker, looking like a retirement house escapee while wearing a larger-than-life-vagina as a hat. Soon, she removed her bra and other paraphernalia and asked us “Too soon?” Sure, not everyone is expecting a topless performer, especially during the first song, but Peaches makes her own rules, and she is unafraid of trying anything.

Her electro-punk rock cabaret was performed at an incredible pace. The performance was a restless and fearless freak show, while dancers and musicians never missed a step, a guitar riff, or a pounding drumbeat. The bulk of the set was obviously made of songs from “The Teaches of Peaches,” from the minimalist electro-rap of “Set it Off,” to the tense “Hot Rod” or the more aggressive “Cum Undun,” but there was much more in store. “Oh my god, wake up Los Angeles!” Peaches screamed at us after the first song, whereas the crowd around me was already completely hysteric.

With her blonde platin mullet, a punk jacket with long hairy fringes attached to the sleeves, Peaches alternated between abrasive experimental punk, robotic stomp, and real rock show energy. It often was a bit of all this at the same time in the same song, but “Sucker” and “Rock Show” exploded with some over-the-top rock exuberance, with shredded electric guitar, ear-splitting distortion, and bulldozer drumming: “Rock show/You came to see a rock show/A big gigantic cockshow/You came to see it all,” screamed Peaches, embodying arena male energy in one line.

Meanwhile, she had already walked above the crowd but repeated the experience a bit later, in a more original setting, walking inside a giant inflatable condom (or it may have been a penis because there was a visible sprinkle at the end) during “Dick in the Air”… It looked like an improved (and more nasty) version of Wayne Coyne’s giant bubble.

There were more costume changes, and limitless experimentation of self-expression, basically a new decor at each song: from a gigantesque bundle of hair wrapping her entire body to a five-breast bra (plus one in her crotch) to hairy cowboy chaps, she could have looked completely grotesque each time but never lost any of her undeniable charisma. Merrill Nisker is without any doubt an impressible show-woman, and her performance was amplified by the many facets of the people dancing around her, whether they were shaking their bodies as giant dancing vulvas during the song “Vaginoplasty,” or were mimicking erotic sex orgies or rocking very hard during the hit song “Boys Wanna Be Her.”

The show was sweaty, sexy, funny, scary (just joking) and very hairy – there was hair everywhere, even covering the piano during the encore – and often in complete contrast with the cold electronic and robotic nature of the songs of “The Teaches of Peaches.” The second part, with songs like “Boys Wanna Be Her” or “Talk to Me” brought a pop change, immediately followed by the 2021 rap song “Pussy Mask.”

Her female-sexuality-empowering songs – “Vaginoplasty” is a “song about my vagina” and “Dick in the Air” proposes “We’ve been shaking our tits for years, so let’s switch positions – were a complex mix of naughty hip hop wordplay, electroclash, abrasive post-punk electronic, ghetto-techno for everyone’s greatest pleasure.

It’s hard to imagine where Peaches could go after such a display of hyper-sexualized electro-punk antics, but after “Fuck the Pain Away” she came back (still wearing plenty of silicone boobs) for the longest and cheesiest encore I have ever seen: she did an extended, epic and much dirtier version of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” “It’s a stupid 7-minute song, and my goal is to make it 27 minutes,” she told us between two lines.

The 20-year anniversary of “The Teaches of Peaches” was executed like a victory lap – and why wouldn’t that be the case? But it was a free-for-all sex party that nobody should miss.

Setlist
Set It Off
Hot Rod
Cum Undun
Diddle My Skittle
Keine Melodien
Sucker
Rock Show
Suck and Let Go
Sex (I’m A) (Berlin cover)
AA XXX
Lovertits
Felix Partz
Shake Yer Dix
Bodyline
Boys Wanna Be Her
Talk to Me
Pussy Mask
Vaginoplasty
Operate
Dick in the Air
Fuck the Pain Away
Encore:
It’s All Coming Back to Me Now (Céline Dion cover)

 

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