Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Peaches at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Merrill Nisker, a music and drama teacher in her native Toronto, Canada, began moonlighting in the early 1990s as part of a folk trio, Mermaid Café. In 1995, she played in a rock band and released her first solo album. The band's absurd, highly sexual rock music was a harbinger for what Nisker would become, as she adopted and developed her new larger-than-life persona as Peaches. She lived with fellow recording artist Feist; Feist worked the back of the stage at Peaches' shows, using a sock puppet and calling herself "Bitch Lap Lap." Peaches grew as an electronic musician and performance artist, creating compositions that reversed traditional gender politics, pivoted on sexually explicit lyrics, and employed increasingly controversial props in her stage show. Peaches produced her sixth and most recent studio album, Rub, in her garage in Los Angeles, California, and released it on September 25, 2015.

Peaches' performance at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight featured no band. Peaches frequently retreated to the rear of the stage to twist knobs and program her music. Most of the time, however, she was front and center on a platform, singing her bawdy lyrics as her two costumed dancers slithered and kicked below her. Peaches first came on stage wearing a super-furry beast costume, but several costume changes later she was dancing topless; along the way, she humorously exploited sexual norms by wearing five fake breasts on her chest and having her dancers wear massive vagina costumes.  At one point, a giant simulated condom was projected into the audience and Peaches attempted to walk through it on the audience's shoulders. Meanwhile, raw, throbbing electronic music, hip hop, and punk rock pumped out the soundtrack to Peaches' performance art as she sang and rapped provocative statements that blurred sexual norms. Unlike much contemporary urban music, the presentation was never about suggestive sexual acts; Peaches was more about pushing a dialogue about sexual attractions to absurd limits. Peaches' concert was visual theater for the most adventurous.

Visit Peaches at www.peachesrocks.com.