Walking up to the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, I was a little concerned. My assignment was to do a live show review of Peaches and the Herms with supporting act Quintron and Miss Pussycat. Peaches shows are notorious for pushing sexual boundaries, being flamboyant, featuring nudity and for often having giant penises on stage.
Standing in line to enter, strange electronica mixed with church organs and maracas poured out of the club. The noise, appropriately titled swamp-tech by their latest album title, was coming from New Orleans band Quintron and Miss Pussycat.
They screamed “I’m just a badass! You’re just a badass!” as Quintron jumped out into the crowd and danced with the audience. Once I headed up to the balcony, I could see Quintron – a tall, slender man wearing a white, sequined suit – who resembled a late-night talk show bandleader. Miss Pussycat, a collection of synchronized singers dressed in 1950s jumpers, replied, “You’re a fucking bad ass.” Quintron’s ode to badasses was his last song, sung from behind a makeshift keyboard attached to the front of a car.
After his set, more fans packed into the smoke-filled club providing the most diverse congregation of music fans I’ve ever seen. Hip hop honeys, hipsters and hash heads alike were all there to witness the teaches of Peaches.
Peaches, a former private school teacher, has made it her mission to reverse sexual stereotypes as portrayed in music. Songs like “Boys Want to Be Her”, “Two Guys for Every Girl,” and “Rock the Shocker” push the sexual boundaries Peaches hopes to eliminate.
It’s no wonder, then, that constant sexual references and acts dominate Peaches’ live shows. Her sexually ambiguous backing band The Herms (a play on the words “hers” and “hims”) joins Peaches in her sexual antics on stage.
With the hair and makeup of a Twisted Sister video, theatrics of James Brown and dance moves of Richard Simmons, Peaches’ shows – and outfits – are so risqu? that even Christina Aguilera (in her dirrrty days) would blush. Her performance Sunday night was no exception.
As Petula Clark’s “Downtown” came over the speakers, the lights went dim. Peaches, standing behind a black sheet, allowed the entire song to play before performing her answer to Clark’s 1964 hit in a black leather body suit and knee-high stockings.
Peaches went from song to song rapping, yelping and harmonizing over heavy rap, quick electronica and standard rock beats. This exceptional combination of musical stylings is something that only Peaches can pull off.
As she transitioned between genres, Peaches stripped down the music and her clothing revealing her ideas on sexual stereotypes. On songs like “Do Ya?” one of Peaches’ roadies – affectionately named Thing 2 – came out and held her guitar for her, bowing down in praise. On other songs, Peaches lead the Herms in a Jazzercise routine involving jumping jacks and synchronized dancing with a little arm-wrestling thrown in.
During the popular single “Operate” (from the “Mean Girls” soundtrack), Peaches, dressed in a leather cape reading “XXX”, personalized James Brown’s exhausting performance in which he passes out at the end of a song. As Peaches was carried off the stage on a stretcher by Thing 1 and Thing 2, only the crowd’s cheering could revive her.
In one final sexually charged song, “Shake Yer Dix,” Peaches and the Herms acted out the lyrics to the song as the entire audience shouted every word to the song in a sing-along moment that rivaled a Dashboard Confessional concert. Because it was a Peaches show though, there were no lighters and slow-waving arms in the air. Instead, dildos and fingers shaped like “the shocker” pervaded the audience.