If you've ever met my record collection, your best guess would not place me at a Peaches show. But there I was outside of The Vic (located in the lovely Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago), standing in the box office line in the sweltering heat. Relief came as my hard-rock DJ partner (der Schiele EinfluÃŸ) and I walked through the front doors into the icy air of the venue. (Yesss.)
We got there just in time for Eagles of Death Metal to warm up the crowd. Without further thought you'd assume this to be the most haphazard of touring bills - with EODM's members outfitted like they were the most charming motorcycle gang you've ever ran into and Peaches' ever-popular gender melting following. On the contrary, with EODM's Jesse "the Devil" Hughes complimenting and dedicating songs to "all the gorgeous ladies" and "the beautiful crowd" - it makes complete sense that this band would go over quite well opening up for the Peach. And did you know that three of four official EODM members perform on Peaches' latest album? It's true!?
Playing songs from Eagles of Death Metal's latest record, Death By Sexy on Downtown Recordings (also home to Gnarls Barkley and Art Brut), the band followed the pop formula of verses, choruses, and breakdowns. This structure works for the band, as their songs are simple and catchy - which simply makes it a live set of hit after hit. The energy level of the quartet goes from zero to sixty as soon as the lights are up and manages to stay revved up throughout the set. Fans were calling out the names of their favorite songs like "I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)" [video | MP3] and "I Got A Feelin' (Just Nineteen)," which of course were performed by the obliging band. Though founding member Josh Homme is busy with Queens Of The Stone Age duties (playing San Diego's Street Scene and Lollapalooza in Chicago in a couple weeks), the band carried on with a touring drummer who got the job done. The band ended their set in their signature group bow as the crowd cheered, shuffled about, and held their metal horn hands up in the air.
Shortly after, DJ Schiele EinfluÃŸ and I were standing in the balcony to the left of the stage. Some people across the venue began pointing, cheering, and clapping their hands in our direction. WTF? WTF is right. The lights dimmed and it took about 30 seconds for us (and those around us and even some people in the crowd below - depending on their sight lines) to realize that Peaches was one tier above us with her cordless microphone taunting the crowd. She is always one for a dramatic entrance (just two weeks ago while she was opening up for Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus, she had the band carry her out while her limbs lay limp, kind of like a post-mortem Marilyn Monroe in "Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend" or Madonna in the "Material Girl" video). "Impeach my bush," she chants (also the name of her new album on XL), and soon the audience participates. The call and response soon morphs into Peaches simply saying "Impeach... Bush." The lights dim, and the band kicks in. Yes, you heard me! Band. Peaches' first band - all female, no less! (Duh.) Peaches' band (which includes drummer Samantha Maloney who incidentally toured with Eagles of Death Metal sharing drumming duties with Homme, J.D. from Le Tigre, and ex-Courtney Love guitarist Radio Sloan) kill it with a flurry of electro-punk beats, light boxes, and Peaches slowly losing layers of her costume - from a silver space-like get-up, to pink sequined bikini-ish, to what looked like to be a black bra and matching undies. The crowd embraced her, lost its inhibitions, loved her more and nearly lost their minds when "Fuck The Pain Away" came on.
By this time I was standing in the highest balcony of the venue, where Peaches opened her set. Going up the stairs, it was pitch black and you basically had to follow what lights of the stage you could use to guide yourself up. From this vantage point I examined the crowd. There were fists pumping in the air, I got obsessed with watching this fan who was front and center singing along as if it was him on-stage. As my gaze drew further back, Peaches began her song "I U She." It was then that I realized how incredibly diverse and open this crowd was. Boys kissing boys, girls kissing girls, girls kissing boys, friends dancing and sweating, fans jumping and swaying - and my personal favorite - man and woman in the balcony standing up and smiling wide. You couldn't tell if they were there as chaperones to their grandchild's first concert, parents of a band member, or simply fans of Peaches. Okay yes, I realize we live in an urban setting north of the mason-dixon line and it's 2006. I'm just saying I actually took the time to stop and take in how tolerant and accepting the crowd was of each other. Judging by appearance alone - there were punks, Goths, indie kids, khaki wearing gap shoppers - all bouncing along together. There was even that girl who was dressed all grunge rock in construction boots, daisy dukes, and I think I even saw a scrunchie - no joke! She looked like she was having the best time of them all.
My flat mate recently went up to Peaches and said, "I think that you're important." Granted, it was late and we were all partaking in some kind of vice and perhaps the sentiment fell flat to the rest of us, but she replied, "No you're important!" Did she make this comment out of intoxication or as a clever woman? Both. Her answer was simple, funny and accurate. But as for the lady herself, Peaches is completely important on so many levels - on the very surface she is a great example for enjoying one's self-image, once you dig deeper you'll find her lyrics to carry a big message even though they can be simplistic, and of course her contributions musically to electro-punk (or whatever you want to label it) are nothing to scoff at. Let's not forget she has self-produced and performed for years as a one-woman show.
Peaches then started chanting, "I, you, he together, come on, baby let's go / I, you, she together, come on, baby let's go" and suddenly it all clicks. You must not only disregard society's labels and roles, you also have to be conscious of them to fully become enlightened. I immediately make a note in my Treo to call Tripwire editor Matt DuFour as I am propelled and inspired to write about this...
By Celeste Tabora