Twenty-two years ago, a Canadian artist named Merrill Nisker going by the stage name Peaches released an album that would thrust her hyper-sexual punk-pop antics into the spotlight and keep her there for the next two decades. Booked as an anniversary tour that was surely meant to take place on the twentieth anniversary in 2020, the current Peaches tour is meant to be a celebration of her landmark album The Teaches of Peaches, which instantly solidified her status as a modern-day sexual icon with an indie edge. The U.S. leg of the tour finds Peaches hitting a small handful of cities on the left and right coasts, and on Tuesday, May 17th, Peaches and her band of merry revelers hit Portland, Oregon for a long sold-out show at the Wonder Ballroom.
Taking the stage with a walker and wearing shriveled pussy on her head, Peaches humorously alluded to how much time had gone by since the release of The Teaches of Peaches. But age ain’t nothing but a number and she soon started disrobing while leading the fans in a sing along to the punchy beat of “Set It Off.” As one might expect, the album would make up the bulk of the show, with Peaches bringing out her scantily clad band members and easing the crowd into the party during the rambunctious techno rock of “Hot Rod” and “Cum Undun.” By the time she got to “Diddle My Skiddle,” Peaches was crowd surfing like an intrepid conqueror badass. What ensued from that point on was a combustible mix of rock and roll bravado, punk attitude, pop diva, and cabaret. Stripping again to reveal a onesie with the words “Thank God For Abortion,” Peaches would don a guitar and shred her way through “Keine Melodien” before laying down some serious solo guitar chops on the punk-edged “Sucker” and getting her full band going on the aptly titled banger “Rock Show.” One of the highlights of the show came right after, during the electro beat-driven “Suck and Let Go,” which featured a butt-tastic strip routine from her dancers to tantalize the audience.
Heading into the second half of the set, Peaches unleashed some of her biggest tunes, including the inclusive dance anthem “Shake Your Dix” backed by a masquerade of red leather. “Boys Wanna Be Her” was a straight-up hair metal shred session complete with dancers, while “Talk To Me” fused New Wave pop and beats with defiant vocals. One of the newest Peaches tunes was also one of the biggest moments of the night as she bared all – save for a masked pair of panties – during the Covid party track “Pussy Mask.” This featured one of the most impressive dance performances of the night, with Peaches adorned by her near-nude dancers as they used their bodies to twist into a gyrating vagina. This energy continued into “Vaginoplasty” complete with dancing vaginas to drive it all home. By the time she closed out her set with the siren-rave anthem “Dick In The Air” – setting the mood by shooting silly spray into the crowd – Peaches had ignited a full-on dance party.
Throughout the 90+ minute performance, Peaches was truly the ringleader of her wild pack and never relented on the energy. This would culminate with the encore of what is perhaps her best-known song, “Fuck The Pain Away,” an explosively sexual punk-dance tune that was amplified by Peaches and her dancers popping champagne over the crowd. To drive the celebration home, Peaches reflected back on her crazy career with a cover of fellow Canadian Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” with dirty altered lyrics of course. With the audience properly basking in the humor, fun, art, and super-charged sexiness of the performance, it was clear that Peaches still has plenty to teach and remains a vital voice in this era that somehow finds sexual repression on the rise despite any progress that has been made. While plenty of pop acts traffic in a world of faux-filth and surface-level sexuality, Peaches and her music remain a subversive force still capable of stimulating and challenging the listener. And, as she reminded the crowd in Portland on Tuesday, she also happens to be one of the greatest performers in the last twenty years.