For someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time of late reviewing testosterone-driven metal shows, the estrogen level at this show was thick and obvious, almost a visible fog settling above the audience as they awaited the arrival of the much buzzworthy artist Peaches to burst forth onstage. It didn't help that the temperatures in the sold out crowd were still in the 100s when she hit the floor a little after 11, nor were the presence of many "bearded ladies" in the audience any boost to the testosterone level. This was most obviously girls night out and I was packin' the wrong equipment. Nothing more frightening (and disorienting) to your average card-carrying hetero male than an audience full of socially (and sexually) empowered women.
Luckily, at least I was packin' the right photographic equipment. I had a new f/1.4 lense I was dying to try out and Emos is a great little venue to dial stuff like that in, though not necessarily during a sold out show like this one. By the time Peaches made it out it had become a fight to maintain any location near the stage, with fans literally crawling on the floor in hopes of "popping up" closer in. Still I was able to remain close enough to the stage for 2 of my 3 photo songs before being forced back by the throngs.
Many fans were surprised to find out that the Peaches show had sold out, unfortunately most of those same surprised fans expected to be able to pick up tickets at the door. They were of course disappointed, but have only themselves to blame as no one could expect to get in show night at a small club with an artist who has this much "buzz."
Boy, did they miss out too. Peaches put on a 90 minute set that just blazed and those who made it in just ate up the experience. Peaches' music has been described as "Electroclash" which wikipedia defines as "a style of fashion, music, and attitude that fuses new wave, punk, and electronic dance music with somewhat campy and absurdist post-industrial detachment in addition to vampy and/or camp sexuality." That description is spot-on from what I experienced. Peaches blends dance, hip/hop, and punk with a purposely shocking amount of sexual content (to the un-initiated) and a smattering of politics (her latest disc is titled "Impeach My Bush") guaranteed to turn conservative moral majority members a whiter shade of pale.
Me, I'm a bit tougher to shock. I mean saying the word "fuck" onstage hasn't caused outrage in this town since Phil Tolstead of The Huns got arrested onstage at Rauls in 1978 for supposedly uttering it, earning Austin its first chops as being the Texas punk mecca. In fact the truth is much better than the legend and could itself be a Peaches story, and my god it's 2006 and even Willy is singing about gay cowboys. It's just tough to be truly shocking anymore.
Peaches stripping out of the gold lame down to a bikini with the assistance of a roadie or two during "Two Guys (For Every Girl)" was an interesting touch but I wouldn't want to crowd surf that way. This was a fun show that crossed many genres and genders and anyone who can handle the overt and graphic sexuality of the music and the musician will enjoy themselves.
Stepping up to second bill and filling the shoes of the missing in action openers, the Eagles of Death Metal, Deadboy and the Elephantmen from Houma, Louisiana filled in well. After appearing at SXSW and being the first music act on Henry Rollins IFC show that has now featured such artists as Slayer, The New York Dolls and Thom Yorke of Radiohead, they are poised to be something big. A good portion of the crowd had come just for them and they have a substantial street buzz of their own.
I got a chance to chat with Dax Riggs between sets and he said he really enjoyed doing Henry's show and appreciated his support, and that they really liked doing shows in Austin. Based in Louisiana, Dax formed Deadboy after his metal band Acid Bath split up in 1997. His music with Deadboy is best described as kind of a southern flavored White Stripes with a spicy cajun edge. He has an original sound that is stripped lean raw and expressive. I look forward to reviewing his disc and will definitely put them on my list for the next tour.
Rounding out the nite were show openers The Ugly Beats, a local Austin band. Go-go boots, tambourines. They had a poppy, punky 60s feel and were well suited to the other acts musically, complementing their sounds, rather than clashing.
Once again thanks go out to the Emo's crew and to Peaches and her tour manager for hooking me up with a photo pass.
I will try to catch one more show before I head out to the National Reptile Breeders Expo in August to hand out club kingsnake T-Shirts, if not my next review will probably be the "As the World Burns" tour featuring X and The Rollins Band at Stubbs on August 30. I am still trying to get a photo pass for that show, so cross your fingers.