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Strap-On Rock: Peaches at the Wiltern

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Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 7:30 AM

View more photos in Timothy Norris' Peaches slideshow.

It might seem hard to believe, but it's been almost 10 years since somebody in the know hipped you to this amazing electro record called The Teaches of Peaches by some crazy Canadian chick who recorded for German label Kitty-Yo. Since then, of course, Peaches has become recognized as a pop visionary, a left-field unidentified object that effortlessly imposed her gravity on the mainstream and forever warped the line between Madonna and Lady Gaga. She came to the Wiltern last Saturday, to present her latest slab of take-no-prisoners gender agit-prop you can dance to. I Feel Cream, she calls it, and she's enlisted long-term associate Gonzales and clever UK mixmasters Simian Mobile Disco as co-instigators.

click to enlarge TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris

The bulk of Peaches' current stage show is the I Feel Cream material. But while the album is a return of sorts to the dancefloor after the punkier experimentation of Fatherfucker and Impeach My Bush, these live interpretations are fleshed out by her touring band Sweet Machine into something much more raw. Although the outlandish costume changes and self-deprecating hystrionics might make Peaches a camp icon--perhaps a Cher/Bette Midler hybrid for queer and feminist audiences that came of age around 9/11--what she really wants to be is a hard rock star. Peaches follower Lady Gaga might have Peachified Madonna's act, but as her performance amply illustrated, Peaches' own mission is to take the AC/DC/Stooges/Def Leppard script and turn the sexism of most guitar rock on its head.

Instead of cock rock, Peaches came to offer strap-on rock, if you will.

After an opening set by Iceland nu-ravers Steed Lord, the audience was primed for Peaches by the energetic Amanda Blank. The scantily clad Philly rapper jumped around like an aerobics instructor and delivered her raunchy rhymes like a one-woman Pussycat Doll show, all the while getting the crowd riled up about the headliner.

click to enlarge Amanda Blank fluffing the audience for Peaches - TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
  • Amanda Blank fluffing the audience for Peaches

Blank's enormous crush on Peaches was contagious and by the time the three members of Sweet Machine took their places wearing what can best be described as hair-burqas, the Wiltern audience was ready to be dazzled by a unique spectacle.

And dazzled they were. Peaches' entrance following the intro of I Feel Cream's standout "Mud" upped the ante for bizarreness, elaborating on the hair-burqa motif with a gigantic hairdress that made her look like the Tim Burton version of a Maurice Sendak Wild Thing (Come to think of it, Spike Jonze was wise to stick with the milder Karen O.--one can only wonder at the foul, wonderful things Peaches would have done to his twee vision!).

click to enlarge Where the Wild Peaches Are - TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
  • Where the Wild Peaches Are
From the get-go, those who came to see a faithful reproduction of the pristine dance sound of the new record were in for a surprise. Sweet Machine, a German trio hand-picked by Peaches for the tour, are a loud rock band featuring a pounding drummer, an Amazonian blonde bombshell with vintage Lita Ford attitude and guitar chops, and an androginous cute guy on bass and decks who looks like Le Tigre's JD Samson reborn in the chiseled body of a young Iggy Pop. Their sound gives Peaches' new and old songs a harder, oftentimes sludgier edge that clearly delights the diva.

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